Are You a Living Stone?

Some of the most misunderstood verses in all of the New Testament are found in Matthew 16. In this chapter Jesus asks His disciples who He is and Peter, answering Him, in verse 16, said: “ ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (Petra) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:16–19.

The word “petros” that is translated Peter, means a stone. “And on this Petra (a very large boulder or rock) I will build My church.” On what Rock is the church built? Peter knew the Rock upon which the church was built. He wrote: “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” 1 Peter 2:4–8. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone upon which the church is built. (To see that this authority was given to the whole church, and not Peter alone, see also Ephesians 2:19–22; Matthew 21:44.)

Even though we clearly understand who the rock is, Christ’s command in Matthew 16 has still been difficult for many to understand. Jesus told Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19. Here Jesus gave the Christian church enormous authority—authority which involves eternal life. (See also Matthew 18:18; John 20:19–23.)

I believe that the reason we have had such a difficult time understanding this verse is because we have not paid careful attention to who and what constitutes Christ’s church. We are in big trouble if we do not know who and what the church is, because the church has the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

It was by means of these Scriptures that the Bishops of Rome attained authority over the then-known world, during the Dark Ages. Dissidents, Bible-believing Christians, were tortured or burned at the stake. Robes and miters, with pictures of demons, snakes and devils painted on them, were placed upon them. Then the bishops would say, “Not only are you going to die, but we are consigning you to hell and you will burn forever.” By means of these Scripture texts, peasants, kings and nations submitted to the Roman authority.

However, many have failed to realize that this authority, which Christ conveyed upon the Christian church, has three big qualifications.

  1. The people that have the authority must have received the Holy Spirit. (See John 20.)
  2. They must have been taught of God. (See Matthew 16.)
  3. And they must follow the principles of gospel order. (See Matthew 18.)

Words From the Reformers

To help us better understand these qualifications, I will share with you what the reformers taught about the church to whom Christ gave this solemn authority.

John Knox, a Scottish reformer, said that the church was “a divinely originated, a divinely enfranchised and a divinely governed society. Its members were all those who made profession of the gospel; its law was the Bible, and its king was Christ.” The History of Protestantism, vol.2, 496, by J. A. Wylie.

Jesus Christ established the church and is the head of it. Olaf Petri (Paterson), a Protestant reformer in the Land of Sweden, said that the church was the body of Christ, and that believers were the members of that body. The question was whether the Pope and Prelates had the power to cast out of the church those that were its living members and in whose hearts dwelt the Holy Spirit, by faith. This he simply denied. “To God alone it belonged to save the believing, and to condemn the unbelieving. The Bishops could neither give nor take away the Holy Ghost. They could not change those who were the sons of God into sons of Gehenna. The power conferred in the eighteenth chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, he maintained, was simply declaratory; what the minister had power to do, was to announce the solace or loosing of the gospel to the penitent, and its correction or cutting off to the impenitent. He who persists in his impenitence is excommunicated, not by man, but by the Word of God, which shows him to be bound in his sin ’til he repent. The power of binding and loosing was, moreover, given to the church, and not by any individual man, or body of men. Ministers exercise, he argued, their office for the church, and in the name of the church; and without the church’s consent and approval, expressed or implied, they have no power of loosing or binding any one. Much less, he maintained, was this power of excommunication secular; it was simply a power of doing, by the Church and for the Church, the necessary work of purging out notorious offenders from the body of the faithful.” Ibid., vol. 2, 18, 20.

The New Testament teaches clearly that the church is the body of Christ. (See Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18, 24 and 1 Corinthians 12.)

Petris main argument was that those that have the Holy Spirit make up the church. This is revealed in Ephesians 2:22. Baptism by water is a symbol of being baptized by the Holy Spirit. A person is only playing church if the Holy Spirit does not baptize him. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Petri saw that this issue of who had the authority to cast anyone out of the church, required an understanding of what constitutes the church. The church does have divine authority to bind and loose, but the question is, “Who is the church that has that authority?”

Taussan, a reformer in Denmark, drew up a confession which became the confession of the Protestants in Denmark. “It declared Holy Scripture to be the only rule of faith, and the satisfaction of Christ in our room the only foundation of eternal life. It defined the church to be the communion of the faithful, and it denied the power of any man to cast anyone out of that church, unless such shall have first cut himself off from the communion of the faithful by impenitence and sin. It affirmed that the worship of God did not consist in canticles, masses, vigils, edifices, shaven crowns, cowls, and anointings, but in the adoring of God in Spirit and in truth: that ‘the true mass of Christ is the commemoration of His sufferings and death, in which His body is eaten and His blood is drunk in certain pledge that through His name we obtain forgiveness of sins.’ It goes on to condemn masses for the living and the dead, indulgences, auricular confession, and all similar practices. It declares all true believers to be priests in Christ, who had offered Himself to the Father a living and acceptable sacrifice. It declares the head of the church to be Christ, than whom there is no other, whether on earth or in heaven, and of this head all believers are members.” Ibid., 42, 43.

Apostolic Succession

There was a remnant of the apostolic church in Italy called the Waldenses. They were terribly persecuted. One of the main issues with the Waldenses was who is the church? The Waldenses said that they were the Church, the spiritual descendents of the apostles, because they followed the pure teachings of the disciples. For this they were martyred and massacred by the millions. The Waldenses were a perpetual monument of what the church used to be and, as long as they maintained their purity, they were a living witness to testify against how far professed Christendom had departed from the original faith.

One of the early leaders of these people, around 820 A.D., was a godly man by the name of Claude of Turin. Ellen White speaks of him as a devout man who held back the tide of apostasy for a time. Regarding the church, Claude maintained “that there is but one Sovereign in the Church, and He is not on earth…Know thou that He only is apostolic who is the Keeper and Guardian of the apostles’ doctrine and not he who boasts himself to be seated in the chair of the apostle, and in the meantime doth not acquit himself of the charge of the apostle.” Ibid., vol. 1, 21, 22.

The question of apostolic succession has agitated minds in the Christian world for hundreds of years. Some boast, “Our church goes all the way back to the apostles and your church just started at such-and-such time.” Who really are the successors of the apostles? The way to understand this is to ask the question that was commonly asked in Christ’s day— “Who is the true church? Who are Abraham’s seed?”

The Jews told Jesus that they had never been in bondage, because they were Abraham’s descendents. (See John 8:33.) They said, “We are the true church and we are going to have eternal life.” They believed that the Gentiles had no hope of salvation because they were not Abraham’s seed. However, Christ attempted to enlighten their minds. He said, “ ‘I know that you are Abraham’s descendents, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’ They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.’ ” John 8:37–39. That is, you would have a character like Abraham.

Worthless Profession

Our characters are formed by our habits (or our works) day by day. And all throughout the Bible, it is clearly taught that we will be judged according to our works, or our characters. (See Revelation 20; Matthew 17:27, 28). Ellen White said that the day of judgment would be a day of bitter disappointment to most of the Christian world, because they make a profession but they do not have a character that matches that profession. A profession is worthless unless the character coincides with it.

If you profess to be a Seventh-day Adventist, you profess to be a member of the church mentioned in Revelation 12:17 that keeps the commandments of God and has the testimony of Jesus. However, if you do not keep the commandments of God, nor have the faith of Jesus, your profession is worthless!

Notice how Jesus drove this point home to the Jewish leaders. “‘But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.’ Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’” John 8:40–44.

These people professed to be the true church, but actually, Christ said, they were of the devil. They were representatives of Satan. (See The Desire of Ages, 36.)

How do you tell who the spiritual successors of the apostles are? The descendents of the apostles are those that teach the same thing the apostles taught and are filled with the same Spirit. (See The Desire of Ages, 466, 467.)

Profession is worthless unless you show, by your life, that you follow the doctrine you profess. Claude maintained in the ninth century, “Know thou that he only is apostolic who is the keeper and guardian of the apostles’ doctrine.”

The evangelicals during the time of the Reformation said that the church is not the clergy, it is the congregation of godly men. What is usually called the church is merely the old synagogue. The true church is the assembly of the just. In other words, as Ellen White said, “From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11.

Nowhere in the Spirit of Prophecy does Ellen White say that the church is both the faithful and the unfaithful. It is the faithful only. If you are unfaithful and make a profession, your name may be on a church book but you are not part of the church. Your profession is false. The Jews made a profession, but their characters proved that they were the children of the devil. It is character that counts.

Wherever a group of people is filled with the Holy Spirit, living godly, righteous lives and meeting together in an assembly to worship, there is the church. The reformers all understood this, and it gave them the strength to stand before the Bishops who condemned them to eternal hell fire, and confess, “I know my Redeemer liveth!”

One of these faithful believers wrote, “If two or three cobblers or weavers, elect of God, meet together in the name of the Lord, they form a true church of God.”

Fryth, a leading reformer, in England, who was burned at the stake in the sixteenth century said, “‘I understand the church of God in a wide sense. It contains all those whom we regard as members of Christ. It is a net thrown into the sea.’ This principle, sown at that time as a seed in the English Reformation, was one day to cover the world with missionaries.” The Reformation in England, vol. 2, 126, by J.H. Merle d’Aubigne.

Another true and faithful believer, named Bennett, had this experience. “For a whole week, not only the Bishop, but all the priests and friars of the city, visited Bennett night and day. But they tried in vain to prove to him that the Roman church was the true one. ‘God has given me grace to be of a better church,’ he said.—‘Do you not know that ours is built upon Saint Peter?’—‘The church that is built upon a man,’ he replied, ‘is the devil’s church and not God’s.’” Ibid., vol.1, 465.

Tyndale Debates More

Another famous reformer was William Tyndale, a scholar that translated the Bible from the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts into English. On one occasion Tyndale was in a debate with Thomas More, a Roman Catholic. Their discussion went like this:

“More: We must not examine the teaching of the church by Scripture, but understand Scripture by means of what the church says.

“Tyndale: What! Does the air give light to the sun, or the sun to the air? Is the church before the gospel, or the gospel before the church? Is not the father older than the son? God begat us with His own will, with the word of truth. (James 1:18.) If He who begeteth is before him who is begotten, the word is before the church, or, to speak more correctly, before the congregation.

“More: Why do you say congregation and not church?

“Tyndale: Because by that word church, you understand nothing but a multitude of shaven, shorn and oiled, which we now call the spirituality or clergy; while the word of right is common unto all the congregation of them that believe in Christ.

“More: The church is the Pope and his sect of followers.

“Tyndale: The Pope teaches us to trust in holy works for salvation, as penance, saints’ merits and fryer’s coats. Now, he that hath no faith to be saved through Christ, is not of Christ’s church.” Ibid., 395.

The reformer said that wherever the word is faithfully preached and the sacraments purely administered, there is the church. Rome said, Wherever there is a line of sacramentally ordained men, there and only there, is the church.

The Struggle of Separation

For many of the reformers, who grew up believing this distorted view of the church, the realization of the apostasy and the decision of what they must do in response came only with great difficulty. Calvin, the great Swiss reformer faced a terrible struggle. “The doubts by which his soul was now shaken grew in strength with each renewed discussion. What shall he do? Shall he forsake the church? That seems to him like casting himself into the gulf of perdition. And yet, can the church save him? There is a new light breaking in upon him in which her dogmas are melting away. The ground beneath him is sinking. ‘There can be no church,’ we hear Calvin say to himself, ‘where the truth is not.’” History of Protestantism, vol. 2, 152.

Do you believe that? Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:15: “But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” Leaving the truth, is leaving the church. For many years Romanists have accused Protestants of heresy and of separation from the true church. But Ellen White says, “This accusation applies rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from the ‘faith that was once delivered unto the saints.’ Jude 3.” The Great Controversy, 51.

The church stays with the truth because the church is the pillar of the truth. When Calvin began to understand that, it set his mind free. “‘There can be no church,’ we hear Calvin saying to himself, ‘where the truth is not.’…If I shall come back to the truth, as contained in the Scriptures, will I not come back to the church? and will I not be joined to the holy company of prophets and apostles, of saints and martyrs? . . . In fine, Calvin concluded that the term ‘Church’ could not make the society that monopolized the term really ‘the Church.’ High sounding titles and lofty assumptions could give neither unity nor authority; these could come from the Truth alone; and so he abandoned ‘the Church’ that he might enter the Church—the Church of the Bible.” The History of Protestantism, vol. 2, 154.

We are living so near the end that it is time for us, as historic Adventists, to wake up to reality and not be deceived by pretension and profession. Our profession must coincide with our character. Unless our lives are in harmony with God’s law, we are not His people and our profession is worthless.

God’s church is going through as it always has in the past. The church went through in Samuel’s time, however, most of the professed people did not go along with it! The church went through in Jeremiah’s and Daniel’s time. And the church went through in the time of Jesus and the apostles; although the leaders of the professed church were not really a part of God’s church.

Latimer, another Protestant reformer, who was burned at the stake, wrote concerning the church: “Lively stones are needed to build up the temple of God.” The Reformation in England, vol. 2, 42. A church is not just bricks and mortar or corporations or theology. It is people who, as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit, are spoken of in the Bible as living stones that emit light all around.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Do you want to be part of that light? Our greatest danger is that we will be deceived, thinking we are part of the light, because we make a profession, but we do not have a character to back it up. What will we do if we come to the Day of Judgment and have only a profession without having the wedding garment on? I cannot think of a more terrible moment, for then it will be all over and each person’s eternal destiny will be forever fixed. It will be too late to change.

But today, my dear reader, it is not too late. Jesus invites you to become a part of His body. He wants you to become a living stone built into that beautiful building of His church. Is eternal life worth everything to you? The decision is yours.

Which Church is Going Through? Part III

There is a text in the Bible that says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3. No matter how wonderful the building is that you build, if the foundation is not solid, if it is not secure, it can all go to ruin. Every one of you have seen instances, perhaps on television, when a flood swept away large houses. In Matthew 7, Jesus told a story about the man who built his house on the rock and the man who built his house on the sand. When the storm came, one house did not have a foundation. This is true not just for physical buildings. Jesus did not tell that story just so we would know how to build our house. What house was Jesus talking about? What does the Bible say is the house of God? Look at 1 Timothy 3:15 “…if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” If the church is built on the rock, it will stand the storm. But every church that is not built on the rock is going to get blown away. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said to Peter, “…you are Peter, [Petros: that is a stone] and on this rock [petra: that is a large rock or boulder] I will build My church.” Jesus is the living rock. If the church is built on the right foundation, it will go through. Every church that is built on the right foundation will go through and every church that is not built on the right foundation will not go through. It is very important to know what the foundation is because otherwise we will not know which church is going through. Let me give you an illustration on that.

There are texts in the Bible that tell us to flee from Babylon. How can you flee from something if you do not even know what it is? Have you ever thought about that?

Who is the Church of God?

There are texts in the Bible that tell us that we should seek to find the way to Zion. We know Zion is a symbol of God’s church. But, how can you go to Zion if you do not know what Zion is? I receive many letters from historic Seventh-day Adventists who do not know what Zion is. I also have books on the subject. What these books and letters tell me is a common misconception and a common false theory about the foundation of the church. These letters and books tell me that the church organization is the church. Have you ever heard that? These people tell me that the church organization is the church, and they send me stacks of material with references from the Spirit of Prophecy or from the Bible. I have read all of these references very carefully and I have not found one statement yet that says that the church organization is the church. I have read the books where they have attempted to prove this point, and I have read all of the statements and all of the inspired statements in these books. There is not one statement, I believe, in the Spirit of Prophecy, which defines the church this way. Not even one! There are many statements in Inspired writings, however, that exactly define God’s church. We read some of those in our previous articles.

In Acts of the Apostles, page 11 Ellen White says, “from the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church.” That is a statement that people have spent a tremendous amount of time trying to explain or get around. They say that is about something that is invisible. But if you read the whole context, it is not talking about anything invisible, it is talking about something very visible that you can see. Or the one in Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, page 296 that is also in the SDA Bible Commentary, page 949, tells us who it is that composes the church of God. It says it is those that keep God’s commandments. It is those that live by every word that proceeds out of the Lord’s mouth. That is who it is.

The Faith of Jesus

One of the commandments that first began to be broken in heaven by Lucifer was the ninth commandment. The ninth commandment says that you shall not bear false witness. Did you know that it is very possible for a person who comes to church, who is a Christian, and who is a member of a church to bear false witness? How does a person become a member of a church, and what does it mean to become a member of a church? When a person studies the Bible and they learn the truth of this Book, they learn about the commandments of God and decide that they are going to keep all the commandments of God, including the fourth one. They learn about the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus is a faith that gives you the power to change your life—to obey. You receive divine power through the Holy Spirit to live a new life. That is recorded all through the New Testament. (Romans 8; Romans 6; 1 John 3.) When a person studies those things and wants to be part of this group that it talks about in Revelation 14:12—those who keep the commandments of God, those who have the faith of Jesus, they will be one of those who will be ready to go to heaven when Jesus comes, and I want to be part of that group.

What does the Lord tell people to do if they want to be part of His church? What did He say to His disciples just before He left? He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:15, 16. So when a person decides they are going to live by every word in the Bible, and they say that is what they choose to do; they leave aside their sinful life. The apostle Paul spoke to people in the Corinthian church who had been involved in all kinds of sin, and I want to tell you, friend, if you want to be saved, you can be saved. There is nobody who cannot be saved because they are too bad of a sinner. God can save every single one of us. Look what it says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul lists a whole bunch of terrible sins. He says these people are not going to be in the kingdom of God. But notice verse 11: “And such were some of you.” There were people in the Corinthian church who had been sodomites, thieves and adulterers; they had been involved in every kind of sin. Paul said those people are not going to inherit the kingdom of God. Some of them were like this, but notice what happened to them: “…but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Ibid. These people had been involved in every kind of sin that you can think of. He lists a whole bunch of awful ones right there in verses 9 and 10. He said the people who do these things are not going to be in the kingdom of God. You were like this, but you have been washed. Washed! What are you washed in? Revelation 1:5 says, “To Him Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Washed—you cannot get sin out of your life with just water. But Jesus came and washed us from our sins with His blood.

There may be some whom the devil has tempted so much that you have felt like you will have to give up. You think you are so bad you cannot make it. You are no worse than these people were. These people were saved. God is no respecter of persons. God can save you. Is that good news? I am so happy when I preach the gospel. In fact, if I could not share this good news, I do not know if I could preach. How would you like it if a preacher got up to preach and said, “Look, some of you here can be saved because you are in this category, and some of you are such bad sinners that you cannot be saved. You are just stuck. You might as well leave the church right now because you cannot make it.” How would you like to hear that? That would be bad news would it not? But the word ‘gospel,’ means the glad tidings, the good news, “…that Christ Jesus came [Paul said] into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15.

Paul was a bad sinner; he was a murderer. Can God save murderers? Yes! The apostle Paul is going to be in heaven, and he was a murderer. The people he murdered were not criminals. They were the most holy men and women on the face of the earth. But Paul was changed; he was washed. Do you want to be washed from your sins? Are you willing to commit your life to Christ and say, ‘Lord, I am committing my life to You. I will follow You. I am surrendering to You; please wash me from my sins.’ That is what it means to get baptized. When you are baptized, that is a symbol of the fact that your sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus.

God’s People Have Two Qualifications

Remember we were looking at the ninth commandment? Is it possible for me to make all of that profession, and then not follow through? Is that possible? It not only is possible, but it has happened hundreds of millions of times. What if I make a profession but then I do not live according to my profession? You see, there is a church that is God’s people by profession. God’s remnant church, by profession, are those who call themselves Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists are the only people in the world who meet the specifications in Revelation 14:12. This text specifies who God’s people are going to be in the last days; and they have two qualifications.

First, they keep the commandments of God. James 2:10 says that if you keep all the law but you offend in one point you have broken it all. The Ten Commandments are not ten laws; the Ten Commandments are one law. Always remember that. (See Exodus 24:12.) If you break any one of the precepts, you have broken the whole law. God’s last day people will be people who keep all ten of the Ten Commandments.

Secondly, they have the faith of Jesus. I love to talk about the faith of Jesus. Do you have the faith of Jesus? What does the faith of Jesus do? If you have the same kind of faith that Jesus had, you are trusting God completely that He is going to get you through each test. Jesus prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane because He was afraid. Have you ever been afraid? Do you know why Jesus was afraid? Jesus was afraid that His humanity would not be able to stand the test, because He knew what test was coming; He knew He was going to the cross. He was afraid that His humanity would not endure. So He prayed. Did God answer His prayer? A mighty angel came from heaven to strengthen Him. Not to take away the test, but to strengthen Him. That is the faith of Jesus. Are you having any tests? Do you ever become afraid and say, “Oh, Lord, I will never make it. I will not be able to survive this test; I am going to fall; what am I going to do?” Do you ever feel like that? What is the faith of Jesus? The faith of Jesus is when you are depending on God and crying out to Him to give you the power and the strength to get you through whatever test it is that you are facing.

A Form of Godliness

There is a church that is God’s chosen people by profession. They claim to believe Revelation 14:12, to be part of that group; and some of these people really are that group. Unfortunately, some make a profession, but their profession is not true. They are breaking the ninth commandment. Often the professed church of God has gone so far in apostasy that it has persecuted the true church. This is predicted to happen at the end. “He [God] draws the dividing line between those who bear His name by profession and those whose character shows them to be His children.” Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881. God draws the dividing line, and some people are on one side of the line and some people are on the other side of that line. All the people make a profession, but where is the line? The line is between those who simply make a profession and those who show by their character that their profession is true. On which side of the line are you?

“Not their profession, but the fruit they bear, shows the character of the true. Many have a form of godliness, their names are upon the church records but they have a spotted record in heaven.” Appeal to the Battle Creek Church. It is not the profession, but the fruit. This is the difference between the wheat and the tares. The wheat bears fruit. The tares do not bear fruit. They look just like wheat for a long time, but in the harvest time there is no fruit. The Bible tells us what the fruit is in Galatians 5:22, 23. It talks about the fruit of the Spirit. If you really have the Holy Spirit inside and it is not just a profession, some fruit will appear in your life. Even if you have committed all of those sins that we just read about in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 10, the Holy Spirit can purify your heart and give you love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, self-control, and temperance. All of those things the Holy Spirit can produce in your life no matter what your past has been. Is that good news? The gospel, Christianity, is a miracle religion. The person who has been beating his wife, stops. He does not just make a profession; he actually changes his behavior. The person who has been an alcoholic, stops using that poison. The person who has been a profligate, living an immoral life, becomes faithful and true. Their family, their spouse, can depend on them. The gospel actually changes their life. We all need to make the profession, but the profession needs to be true.

The Truth is to Change My Life

It would be better for us if we had never seen the light of truth than to profess to accept it and not be sanctified by it. If I profess to accept the truth, the truth is to change my life. Like we read in the last part of 2 Peter 2, it would be better if a person never even knew the truth than to know it and not be changed in character and in life. The good news of the gospel is that God wants to change your heart and mine through the Holy Spirit so that our profession becomes real and there is actually spiritual fruit in our lives. Because if there is not fruit in the life, the time is near when we are going to be separated. The wheat and the tares are going to be separated. It is a scary subject, but it is true and it is going to happen. It is not only going to happen, but it is happening right now. There is plenty of Inspired instruction that shows that clearly.

There is a reason that we have to spend so much time talking about who and what is the church, if you do not understand who and what it is, at the end you are going to be lost, because you will be going from the wrong place to the wrong place. Now if you are going from the wrong place and you are going to the wrong place, how can you be saved? In other words, if you think this is the church and you are running towards it, but it is not; and if you think that that is not the church and so you are running from it and it is the church, what is your situation? You are lost. Let us think this text through, and let us remember the inspired definitions of who and what the church is.

They Went Out From Us

The only thing that you can depend on is inspiration. There must be a “thus saith the Lord” for what you believe if you are going to be saved. In 1 John 2:19, it says, “They went out from us.” Who is the ‘us’? Is ‘us’ the church organization? Be careful! Who is the ‘us’? If you read from 1 John 1 up to 1 John 2:19, you should be able to figure out who the ‘us’ is, because it tells who the ‘us’ is. For instance, look at 1 John 2:13. It says, “…I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.” Look at verse 14. He says again, “…and you have overcome the wicked one.” John calls these people His little children and he specifies in the first part of chapter 2, verses 3-11, the test of those who really know God. Notice, he says in verses 3 and 4, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Where is he drawing the line? It is those who keep the commandments. Does that sound similar to Revelation 14:12? Continuing in verse 6 we read, ” He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” He has the faith of Jesus. These are the people who are overcoming. These are the people who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. That is who the ‘us’ is.

Then who are the ‘they’? Look at verse 19 again. “They went out from us.” Now the us are the people who are keeping God’s commandments. They are the people who have the faith of Jesus because they are walking like He walked. (See 1 John 2:6.) These are the people who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. That is who the us is in verse 19. Then who are the ‘they’? It says, “They went out from us.” They used to be part of us then. Or did they? Have you read the whole verse yet? They went out from us, but they were not of us. How do you explain that? They used to be here with us, but they were not of us. Continuing in verse 19 we read, “If ‘they’ had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” How do you explain that? They were apparently church members; they were part of the church, but they were not really, they just professed to be. Apparently they were church members; they were apparently part of us, but not really. This verse is worth a lot of study. “They went out from us.” They left those who were keeping the commandments of God and had the faith of Jesus. They left them. That does not necessarily mean that they left the church building or quit going to church. The Spirit of Prophecy makes that very clear.

The Ups and Downs of the Christian Experience

There are many examples in the Bible of the ups and downs of the Christian experience. No disciple had more ups and downs than Peter. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus told Peter, “You are Petros [Peter], and upon this petra [large rock] I will build My church.” Then He said, “I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Verse 19.

Follow Me

In these verses, we see Peter on a mountaintop experience with the Lord. The Lord is giving him wonderful promises, promises that the gates of Hades will not prevail against this church. A few verses later, Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan.” Verse 23. Jesus called Peter Satan himself, because the devil was using him at that point in time. Peter is the only apostle to whom Jesus referred directly in this manner.

Another experience with Peter is given in John 21. In this chapter, several of the disciples were out in the sea fishing overnight but had no success catching fish. As it grew daylight, a person on the shore called to them, asking if they had any fish. When they responded that they did not, the man told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. When they did this, the net was so full of fish and so heavy that they could not pull it into the boat. The disciple John then told Peter that it was the Lord standing on the beach, about 300 feet away. Peter became so excited that he put his outer garment on, jumped into the sea, and swam to see the Lord. He could not wait for the boat to get there with the fish. After they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
” ‘Simon of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He saith to Him, ‘Yes, Lord: You know that I love You.’ He said, ‘Feed My sheep.’ ” Verse 15. That single question test is repeated three times.

Then Jesus added, ” ‘Most assuredly I say to you, that when you were younger you girded yourself and walked where you wished, but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands [Jesus is talking about Peter being crucified—he would stretch forth his hands and be crucified just as Christ was crucified], and another will gird you [when you are nailed to a cross you cannot do anything for yourself] and lead you where you do not wish.’ And this He said, giving a sign by what death he [Peter] would glorify God. And this saying, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ ” Verses 18, 19.

Ellen White, commenting on this experience with Peter, says, “Jesus walked alone with Peter, for there was something which He wished to communicate to him only. Before His death, Jesus had said to him, ‘Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards.’ To this Peter had replied, ‘Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake.’ John 13:36, 37.” The Desire of Ages, 815. What did Jesus mean, you cannot follow Me now? Peter did not then have the courage to go to the cross with Christ. What did he do that night? He denied Christ three times. (See Mark 14:66–72.) But he did follow Christ to the cross later.

Ellen White continues, “When he said this, he little knew to what heights and depths Christ’s feet would lead the way. Peter had failed when the test came, but again he was to have opportunity to prove his love for Christ. That he might be strengthened for the final test of his faith, the Saviour opened to him his future.” Ibid.

Not Singing Now

Peter did not have any idea of the heights and depths he would encounter as he followed Christ. Just as Peter had that experience, the early church had that experience; the children of Israel had that experience; the remnant church has that experience. God’s people, over and over again, have gone over heights that were so high they did not imagine they could be so wonderful. But then they have gone to depths that they could not imagine could be so awful. One of the things I want to concentrate on in this study is why God allows these kinds of things to happen. There are some people who wish that we could just smooth off the high places and fill in the low places and have everything level, but that is not the way the experience of God’s people will be. It goes high, and it goes low.

For example, when the armies of Pharaoh all drowned in the Red Sea, “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Jehovah, and they spoke saying, ‘I will sing to Jehovah.’ ” Exodus 15:1. That is the time that Miriam took the timbrel (see verse 20), and they had a wonderful, exciting experience. They were so happy they could express it only by song, and they composed a song right on the spot. Miriam was the musician, and they sang the song recorded in this chapter. If we are faithful, we are going to sing the song of Moses some day.

But notice what happens just a few days later. They are not singing now! They are out in the desert. There is not enough water to drink, and the children of Israel come to Moses and Aaron to ask if they had brought the whole congregation out there to the desert to let them die of thirst. (See verses 22–24.) They said it would have been better if Jehovah had just killed them back in Egypt. They were not on a high experience now; they were in the depths of discouragement, depression, trouble, and worry. They got so upset that they lost all their faith in God.

Friends, when things happen that you thought could not happen, do you still trust in the Lord, or do you lose your trust? They lost their trust.

Keep Trusting

We see this same experience repeated in the lives of Daniel and his three companions, when they were taken captive to Babylon. They went up and down, up and down. They were afraid that they might lose their lives if they insisted on a different diet than the king provided. They chose to request it anyway, and the Lord blessed them. Not only did they have better health and appearance, but they excelled in school so that they were smarter than all the others, and the king decided to make them part of his special advisors. (See Daniel 1:11–20.) Life seemed wonderful!

A little while later, though, they were threatened with being put to death. The king had a dream; nobody could explain it, so the “wise” men were all to be killed. Daniel pleaded for 24 hours leniency. He and his three friends had a prayer meeting, asking the Lord for help. The Lord gave them the answer! He showed Daniel what Nebuchadnezzar had dreamed. When this information was relayed to the king, Daniel and his three friends were immediately exalted to places of honor. (See Daniel 2:1–19, 48, 49.) All the wise men in the whole kingdom thought well of them, because they had saved their lives.

But a little while later, as the four worthies became more exalted, the other wise men became jealous. Soon they gathered in the Plain of Dura, and the king became furious when these Jewish captives would not bow down to the golden image he had made. Now they were down in discouraging circumstances again. They were thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing to the image. The Lord delivered them from the fire, and then they were exalted again. (See Daniel 3.)

Read the first six chapters of the book of Daniel, and see how many times they go up and down. The exciting thing about this story is that these young men had faith, and when they hit the bottom, they did not lose their faith and trust in God; they kept praying. They did not do like the children of Israel and say, “It would have been better for us if we had just died rather than be taken captive and go through this.”

The True Church

Their experience, from a human point of view, was totally unexplainable. People said to them, “Oh, you belong to the true church, do you? Well, where is your church? Where is your temple? We burned it down! Our gods are better than your God. Oh, you have the true religious service? You do not have a religious service anymore; there are no priests functioning. We do not observe any of the ceremonial law, it is all over.”

I asked some students one time, When Daniel and his three companions were in Egypt, where was the true church? Some people got angry that I even asked that question. Where was it? It seemed like it had ceased to exist, and we little comprehend how their faith was tested. There was nobody to explain how and why all these things were. If God really does have a people in the world, why are we in this mess? Daniel had to study this out, and his prayer in Daniel 9 shows that he figured out how and why all of this had happened. But he did not lose faith and trust in God even then. In fact, Daniel 9 is a chapter where Daniel is interceding to the Lord for His people—a people that it appeared did not exist anymore, but Daniel knew God had a people.

History Repeated

Those kinds of things are going to happen again. God’s people are not always going to be up on a high; they are sometimes going to be down low, when it looks like everything is going to ruin. Ellen White wrote: “Times that will try men’s souls are just before us, and those who are weak in the faith will not stand the test of those days of peril.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 273. Are you weak in faith, or are you strong in faith? To get through the low times, you will have to have a faith that will not quit when everything is unexplainable.

Ellen White says that the people are going to mock us in the last days. They will say, “Oh, you think that you are the true church? You think that you are God’s special people and that this handful of motley people are the only people in the world who have the truth?” She says, “The time that will try men’s souls are just before us. We shall then have no advocate to rebuke the devil and plead in our behalf.” Review and Herald, September 22, 1896. Are you ready for that? Are you ready for the time when you have no attorney, no advocate to make a plea in your behalf?

Are You a Deserter?

Not just Peter, but all of the disciples had these same types of experiences. In the first 13 verses of John 6, we read about the feeding of the 5,000. It is such an important story that it is found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You can be sure that any story found in all four of the gospels has special significance and needs careful study. Notice what happens, and how exciting it gets. “Therefore, the men seeing this miracle which Jesus did, said, ‘Truly this is the prophet. The one coming into the world.’ Therefore, Jesus, knowing that they were about to come and seize Him in order that they might make Him king, separated again into a mountain alone.” John 6:14, 15.

Were they excited? Jesus had just taken five barley loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 men besides women and children. They were so excited; they said, “If we have this man, when we go to fight and take over the Romans, there will be no problem. He can feed the whole army, and if anybody gets injured, He will be able to heal them. Victory will be assured. We will be the masters of the world.” That was their fondest hope—to conquer the Roman Empire and rule the world, and now they knew how to do it. The disciples had this same hope.

After wanting to make Him king, when Jesus tried to explain the true meaning of the loaves the next day, the Bible says, “Many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard saying, who is able to hear it?’ And Jesus knowing in Himself that they grumbled concerning this said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of man going up where He was before? . . . But there are some of you which do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones they were which should not believe and who it was that should betray Him. And He said, ‘On account of this, I have said to you that no one is able to come to Me except it be given him from My Father.’ After this, many of His disciples went away, and did not follow Him or walk with Him anymore. Therefore, Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Are you also going to go away?’ ” John 6:60–62, 64–67.

Many followers forsook Jesus. Ellen White says, “Praise and flattery would be pleasing to their ears; but the truth is unwelcome; they cannot hear it. When the crowds follow, and the multitudes are fed [that was the previous day when they were way up high, but today they hear something that brings them way down low], and the shouts of triumph are heard, their voices are loud in praise; but when the searching of God’s Spirit reveals their sin, and bids them leave it, they turn their backs upon the truth, and walk no more with Jesus.” The Desire of Ages, 392.

A Different Spirit

“As those disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them.” Ibid. Have you ever seen that happen in Adventism? Have you seen people who are fired up, and the Holy Spirit is working on their hearts? They are convicted, and they say they want to be with the revival and reformation movement within Adventism; they want to be ready for the Latter Rain; they want to be ready for Jesus to come; they want to be with the people who are going to go through to the end. Crowds follow, and the multitudes are fed with spiritual food, and it is exciting. But as time goes on, the Holy Spirit puts His finger on their problems. If we are really going to follow Christ all the way, we need to give up the sin in our lives; we need to change our lives.

With different people it is different things. There are many who come so far in their Christian experience, but they reach a point of decision, perhaps on a seemingly small issue, and they cannot go beyond it. Ellen White writes about this: “At every advanced point the heart is tested and tried a little closer. If the professed people of God find their hearts opposed to this straight work, it should convince them that they have a work to do to overcome, if they would not be spewed out of the mouth of the Lord. Said the angel: ‘God will bring His work closer and closer to test and prove every one of His people.’ Some are willing to receive one point; but when God brings them to another testing point, they shrink from it and stand back, because they find that it strikes directly at some cherished idol. Here they have opportunity to see what is in their hearts that shuts out Jesus. They prize something higher than the truth, and their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved a length of time to see if they will sacrifice their idols and heed the counsel of the True Witness. If any will not be purified through obeying the truth, and overcome their selfishness, their pride, and evil passions, the angels of God have the charge: ‘They are joined to their idols, let them alone,’ and they pass on to their work, leaving these with their sinful traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 187.

So, you see, someone who has gone a certain distance in the revival and reformation movement, saying they want their life to come into perfect harmony with the Bible and with the Spirit of Prophecy, may come up to a certain point where finally the Holy Spirit puts a finger right on some cherished sin, and they cannot give it up.

The Bible says that, as the disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them. Have you ever seen that happen? A person, or a whole group of people, goes a certain distance, but they finally reach a point where they say, No, I can’t go any further. I can’t go along with that; that is too much. And they turn, and they do not even know what has happened, but those watching can see that a different spirit has taken hold of them. I have seen it happen so many times, and usually the person to whom it is happening does not realize what is occurring. An observer, from the outside, can clearly see what is happening, and they can see that the person is not even the same person that they were two months before. In the Scriptures it happened in one day—a different spirit took control.

What happened when this different spirit took control? “As those disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them. They could see nothing attractive in Him whom they had once found so interesting.” The Desire of Ages, 392.

Someone may say, “I used to belong to such and such a home church, but I don’t even want to belong to a home church anymore. I’m going to go somewhere else to worship.” In fact, they often fight what they once supported and promoted. This is not a game, where you just go here or don’t go there. When you are not supporting the revival and reformation movement, eventually you are fighting it.

To be concluded . . .

Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas.

The Pen of Inspiration – The Miracle at the Temple Gate

Before leaving his disciples, Christ told them that they were to be the executors of the will in which he bequeathed to the world the treasures of eternal life. To them he said: You have been witnesses of my life of self-sacrifice in behalf of the world. You have seen my labors for Israel. And although my people would not come unto me, that they might have life, although priests and rulers have done unto me as they listed, although they have rejected me, they are to have still another opportunity of receiving me as their Saviour. You have seen that all who came unto me confessing their sins, I have freely forgiven. To you, my disciples, I commit this message of mercy. It is to be given to all nations, tongues, and peoples. . . .

The disciples were to carry their work forward in Christ’s name. Their faith was to center in him as their source of power. In his name they were to present their petitions to the Father, and they would receive answer. Christ’s name was to be their watchword, their badge of office, their bond of union, the authority for their actions, and the source of their success.

The men to whom this trust had been committed realized the greatness of their work. They knew that they held in their hands the bread of life for a famishing world. The love of Christ constrained them, and they could not forbear breaking the bread of life to all who were in need. The commission given them was constantly sounding in their ears.

A short time after the descent of the Holy Spirit, and immediately after a season of earnest prayer, Peter and John, going up to the temple to worship, saw at the gate of the temple a cripple, forty years of age, whose life, from his birth, had been one of pain and infirmity. This unfortunate man had long desired to see Jesus, that he might be healed; but he was almost helpless, and was far removed from the scene of the Great Physician’s labors. His earnest pleadings at last induced some friends to bear him to the gate of the temple; but upon arriving there, he found that the One upon whom his hopes were centered had been put to a cruel death.

His disappointment excited the pity of those who knew how long he had eagerly hoped to be healed by Jesus, and they daily brought him to the temple, that the passers-by might be moved to give him a trifle to relieve his wants. As Peter and John passed, he asked an alms from them. The disciples looked on him compassionately, and Peter said: “Look on us. Silver and gold have I none.” The countenance of the cripple fell as Peter thus declared his own poverty, but it grew bright with hope and faith as the apostle continued, “But such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” [Acts 3:6.]

“And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle-bones received strength. And he, leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened.” They were astonished to think that the disciples could perform miracles similar to those performed by Jesus. Yet here was this man, for forty years a helpless cripple, now rejoicing in the full use of his limbs, free from pain, and happy in believing in Jesus.

The apostles saw the amazement of the people, and asked why they should be astonished at the miracle, or why they should regard them with awe, as if they had performed this miracle in their own power. Peter assured them that the cure had been wrought in the name and through the merits of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had rejected and crucified, but whom God had raised from the dead. “His name through faith in his name,” the apostle declared, “hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” [Acts 3:16.]

Having spoken plainly of the great sin of the Jews in rejecting and putting to death the Prince of Life, the apostles were careful not to drive their hearers to despair. “And now, brethren,” Peter said, “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” [Verse 17.] He declared that the Holy Spirit was calling upon them to repent and be converted, assuring them that there was no hope of salvation except through the mercy of the One whom they had crucified. Only through faith in him could their sins be forgiven.

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted,” he cried, “that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” [Verse 19.]

These words should come to us today with impelling force. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!” [11 Corinthians 7:10, 11.] This is genuine repentance. It will lead to a transformation in the life. It is the absence of this true sorrow for sin that makes many conversions superficial. Reformations are not made in the life. But when sin is viewed in the light of the Law of God, and its true character is realized, it will be put away from the heart and life.

True sorrow for sin brings the penitent soul near to the side of Jesus. There he may effectually plead for pardon, and obtain grace to conquer. There his darkened understanding may be enlightened, and the stony heart transformed into a heart of flesh. There the rebellious sinner is subdued, and his will is brought into conformity to the will of God.

“Ye are the children of the prophets,” Peter continued, “and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” [Acts 3:25, 26.]

Thus the disciples preached the resurrection of Christ. Many among those who listened were waiting for this testimony, and when they heard it, they believed. It brought to their minds the words that Christ had spoken, and they took their stand in the ranks of those who believed the gospel. The seed that the Saviour had sown sprang up and bore fruit.

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” [Acts 4:1, 2.]

After Christ rose from the dead, the priests spread far and near the lying report that his body had been stolen by the disciples while the Roman guard slept. We can not be surprised that they were grieved when they heard Peter and John preaching the resurrection of the One they had murdered, and when they saw that converts to the new faith were multiplying rapidly. The captain of the temple and some of the other officials were Sadducees. These were greatly roused by the preaching of the disciples. They felt that their favorite doctrine was in danger, and their reputation was at stake. The captain, with the help of a number of Sadducees, arrested Peter and John, and put them in prison, as it was too late that day for them to be examined.

The opponents of the disciples could not but believe that Christ had risen from the dead. The evidence was too convincing to be doubted. Nevertheless, many hardened their hearts, refusing to repent of the horrible deed they had committed in putting Jesus to death. When power from heaven came upon the apostles in so remarkable a manner, fear kept the Jewish leaders from violence, but their bitterness and malice were unchanged.

Five thousand individuals had already accepted the truth proclaimed by the disciples, and both Pharisees and Sadducees agreed that if these teachers were suffered to go unchecked, their own influence would be in greater danger than when Jesus was upon the earth.

The Holy Spirit is often rejected because it comes in unexpected ways. Abundant evidence that the apostles were speaking and acting under divine inspiration had been given to the Jewish rulers, but they firmly resisted the message of truth. Christ had not come in the way they expected, and though at times they were convinced that he was the Son of God, yet they stifled conviction, and crucified him. In mercy God gave them still further evidence, and another opportunity to turn to him. He sent the disciples to tell them what they had done, and in the terrible charge that they had killed the Prince of Life, he gave them another call to repentance. But feeling secure in their own righteousness, the Jewish teachers were not prepared to admit that the men charging them with crucifying Christ were speaking by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Having committed themselves to a course of opposition to Christ, every act of resistance became to the priests an additional incentive to pursue the same course. Irrespective of the fear or favor of men, the apostles proclaimed the truths which had been committed to them. But though the Jews could not fail to see their guilt in refusing the evidence sent by God, they would not cease their wicked strife. Their obstinacy became more and more determined. It was not that they could not yield; they could, but would not. It was not alone because they were guilty and deserving of death, not alone because they had put to death the Son of God, that they were cut off from salvation; it was because they armed themselves with the attributes of Satan, and determined to be opposed to God. They persistently rejected light, and stifled the convictions of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that works in the children of disobedience worked in them, leading them to abuse the men through whom God was working. The malignity of their rebellion was intensified by each successive act of resistance against God, and against the message he had given his servants to declare. Every day, in their refusal to repent, the Jewish leaders took up their rebellion afresh, preparing to reap that which they had sown.

The wrath of God is declared against unrepentant sinners not merely because of the sins they have committed, but because they choose to continue in resistance, repeating the sins of the past in defiance of the light given them. If the Jewish leaders had submitted to Christ, they would have been pardoned, but they were determined not to yield. In the same way, the sinner, by continued resistance, places himself where he knows nothing but resistance.

Review and Herald, June 8, 1911.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, in-cluding 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.

What Manner of Persons

In 11 Peter 3:11, the question is asked, “What manner of persons ought you to be?” This chapter of 11 Peter is the last letter from the apostle Peter. In the first chapter, he tells us that very soon he is going to die. He knows that, just as the Lord predicted to him, he will very soon be crucified. In the second chapter, he predicts a worldwide apostasy in Christendom after his death and describes the awful apostasy that will come into the Christian church. In the third chapter, he speaks of the times in which we are living, and he tells the people how they can be sure of obtaining eternal life. He tells them that the word of prophecy is surer than what they see or hear.

Verse 3 of 11 Peter 3 says, “This knowing first, that mockers shall come in the last days.” What is this mockery? What are these mockers going to say? Peter goes on to list other things that will happen in the last days.

Promise of His Coming

People will ask, “Where is the promise of His coming?” This is a statement of unbelief. The last days are described in the Scriptures as a time of great unbelief. Most of the world does not believe. Are we living in that time? Yes, it is recorded in our history books. Many historians refer to the period of time that we often call the Middle Ages and the Dark Ages as the age of faith. It was a very wicked time, a time when millions of Bible-believing Christians were martyred for their faith, but it was still an age of faith. Even those who were killing other people claimed they were Christians who believed in God and in the Bible. But the last days are described as a time of unbelief. Jesus described them in that manner—He said it would be like the days of Noah. (Matthew 24:37.) Were the days of Noah a time of unbelief? Well, there were only eight people in the ark! The last days are repeatedly described as a time of great unbelief.

I was reading recently that various mathematicians have tried to figure out what the population might have been at the time of the flood. Remember, people before the flood lived to be nearly 1,000 years of age, so if you consider that, a woman could probably have borne children for 300 to 400 years. How many children would a woman have during that time? One mathematician said that it would be the easiest thing in the world for the average family to have 18 to 20 children, so he used the lower number of 18 in his calculations. There are people in our time who have a dozen or more children, so 18 is not an unrealistic number. We know that people in the Old Testament had many children. In Genesis 5, we are told that Enoch lived for 365 years; his first child, Methuselah, was born when he was 65. Then it states that after that he “begat sons and daughters.” (Verses 21, 22.) He would have had at least two sons and two daughters in addition to Methuselah, so Enoch would have had a minimum of five children. It could have been six or eight or ten. This mathematician calculated that at the time of the flood, if the average family had 18 children, the population could have been between 700 and 800 million people! If the average family had been 20, the population would have been over a billion. Ellen White says that there was a vast population in the world at that time. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 102.) It is almost certain that, at a minimum, there were hundreds of millions of people, and there could easily have been over a billion.

Out of those hundreds of millions, there were only eight people in the ark. Was that an age of unbelief? Jesus foretold that it will be like that again at the end, and Peter foretold that it would be a time of great unbelief. The people will be mocking those who are expecting the Lord to come. They will say that we expected Him to come years ago, and we cannot contradict that.

Lust, Unbelief

People will be going after their own lusts. In other words, they will be following their own human cravings.

People will be expressing unbelief. People will say, “Since the fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation.” That is the Uniformitarian Theory that was developed in the last 200–250 years. This Theory states that if you cut into a mountain to observe the sediment and you determine that two-tenths of an inch of sediment is being laid down every year in this mountain, by cutting down so many feet, you can say that this mountain is so many million years old, because you believe that the same amount of sediment being laid down now has been laying down for centuries.

In 1979, I toured the geology building at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. I went through the entire building—looking for their evidence that things were many millions of years old. I went to every display in the whole building, and there is only one piece of evidence—the Uniformitarian Theory. The whole field of geology is built on this Theory. Almost 1,800 years before this Theory was developed, Peter said that that is what people would say in the last days. According to Bible prophecy, this Theory is proof that we are living in the last days.

Willingly Ignorant

People are willingly ignorant that this world came into existence by the Word of God. This world is not something that just developed over a long period of time. It came into existence by the Word of God. People want to be ignorant; they do not want to remember this. We have the most startling proof of this today. I have read a book about the researches of an orthodontist who went to Europe and other areas to study the skulls of people such as the Neanderthal man and the Promagnum man, who were supposed to be millions of years old. He secured permission to take x-ray pictures of some of the skulls. He began doing some measurements and calculations and found information that was so startling—and that so startlingly disproved previous theories—that his life was actually in danger.

Robert Gentry, the man who wrote Creation’s Tiny Mystery [Earth Science Associates, Knoxville, Tennessee, 1986], which describes how stones were created, challenged some organizations in court. He has written 11 different research reports of his findings on his rock research. No one has been able to fault his research. In court, when the evolutionists were asked to refute his research, they said, “That is just a tiny mystery that we cannot explain.” He has submitted his reports for publication, but the journals refuse to publish them. Do you know why they refuse to publish them? Because the Bible says that in the last days people willingly, wantonly desire to forget. It is exactly what the Bible says. They do not want to remember that the heavens and earth came into existence by the Word of God.

The world that was deluged by water during the Flood was destroyed. The Flood is one of the things of which the people are willingly ignorant. If any of you find a geology or biology textbook that teaches that there was a worldwide flood about 4,400 years ago, let me know. I have never seen one. Our textbooks never acknowledge a worldwide flood; they only tell of an ice age. Notice what Peter says: “But the heavens and the earth which now are, by the same Word, are kept treasured up for fire unto the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” Verse 7.

Fire Coming

The Bible teaches that there is fire coming. The third angel’s message teaches that there is fire coming. I have never preached much about hell. I do not like to think about it. I do not like to preach about it. I do not like to talk about it, but it is in the Bible. We need to recognize that each one of us has a heaven to win and a hell to shun. (See Selected Messages, Book 1, 96.) We need to always have this in mind when we are speaking with other people. Perhaps it would help us overcome some of our timidity. When we are witnessing, we are trying to save them from hell and motivate them to choose heaven, if they will listen.

Peter says that fire is coming; a time of judgment for the ungodly is coming. Jude 15 talks about the same thing. Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 13.

Big Surprise

An overwhelming surprise is coming upon our world. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief.” 11 Peter 3:10. It is going to be an overwhelming surprise. The verse continues, “. . . in which the heavens with a great rushing sound will pass away and the elements will be burned up. The earth will be destroyed and the works in it.” It is all going to be burned up—our cars, our houses, our possessions. The only possessions we have that will not be burned up, if they are saved, are our children. People can be saved; things cannot be saved. Realizing that everything is going to be burned up helps us to evaluate what is important and what is not important.

Peter’s Query

It is in this context—seeing that everything around us is going to be destroyed—that Peter asks, “What manner of persons should we be in all holy manner of life and godly conduct?” Verse 11. Is this something important to study? If everything around us is going to be destroyed, and we hope to escape the destruction, what manner of people should we be?

Peter gives us hope. He says, “New heavens and a new earth, according to His promise, we expect, in which dwells righteousness.” Verse 13. He tells of the re-creation wherein righteousness dwells. What is righteousness? It is right doing. Romans 7:12 says, “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.” A righteous person lives according to God’s Law. An unrighteousness person is someone who does not live according to God’s Law. (See 1 John 5:17.) “Little children, do not let anyone deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous just as He is righteous. He that sins is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning.” 1 John 3:7, 8.

Peter asks what manner of persons we should be. Consider these things:

Moral Excellence

Moral excellence is a holy manner of life. In 1 Peter 1:15, it says, “You be holy, because I am holy.” Holiness is God-likeness or piety. So often, in religion, we use certain words over and over again, and most of our children cannot understand them. The average child probably cannot tell you what the word holy means. Piety, sometimes translated virtue, means moral excellence.

“Wherefore, beloved, expecting these things, be diligent, spotless, and unblemished [or blameless] to be found by Him in peace.” 11 Peter 3:14. What does it mean to be spotless? Paul uses this term repeatedly. What makes the character spotted? Sin. So, if you are without spot, you are without sin. Remember that the sacrifices were to be without spot or blemish.

The Bible tells us what it is that brings the character into condemnation and what constitutes a person with a righteous or holy character. You may study this in 11 Peter 1:3–8 and Galatians 5:22, 23. The Bible actually gives us more lists of those things that bring the character into condemnation. (See Romans 1:29–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19–21). Jesus says that these are the things that defile a man (Matthew 15:17–20); and John gives three lists in the last of the Book of Revelation.

God must have known that we needed to have these things spelled out. In Revelation 21:5–8, it talks about the one that overcomes, and then it gives a list, and it says that the people with these defiling characteristics are going to be in hellfire. Revelation 21:27 includes a short list; a longer list is cited in Revelation 22. We usually quote verse 14 regarding those who keep the commandments and who will enter in through the gate, but then, if you look at verse 15, a list is given of people who will be on the outside. The Bible gives us lists so we will know which people are spotted and which people are blameless—who will be accounted pious and holy.

Notice 11 Peter 3:17: “Therefore, you beloved, knowing these things beforehand, guard yourself in order that not with the error of the unprincipled one, sometimes referred to as the wicked one, you might be led away and fall from your own steadfastness.” This is a command. Do you suppose, when the Bible gives us a command, that we should pay special attention to what we are to do?

Guard Your Association

This is a general command, but it is a command. It says, “guard yourself.” From what are we to guard ourselves? “The one who walks with wise men, also he will be wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20. According to this verse, we need to guard ourselves concerning our associations. Will there be those who will lose their faith because they associated with the wrong crowd? People think this happens only to children and young people, so we are very concerned with whom our children associate. As adults, however, we are not immune from our associations. Do you realize that every social association has an effect on us? We affect the other person, but they also affect us. This verse can make all the difference between hell and heaven for a lot of people.

The very same principle is discussed in Psalm 1. We need to guard ourselves regarding our associations. Someone may wonder, then, whether we should be social in order to save people. Yes, we should. But Ellen White says that is our only reason for being social with the ungodly—we should associate with them for one purpose only, and that is if we are trying to save them. “Let us ever bear in mind that our Saviour left the heavenly courts, and came to a world polluted by sin. By his own life he has shown his followers how they can be in the world, and yet not be of the world. He came not to partake of its delusive pleasures, to be swayed by its customs, or to follow its practices, but to seek and to save the lost. With this object, and this only, can the Christian consent to remain in the company of the ungodly.” Sketches From the Life of Paul, 299.

Yes, we have to do business with the ungodly. We could not exist in this world if we did not do business with them, but we do not need to associate with them socially, except as we are trying to win them to Christ. If we are not doing something for their salvation, we had better watch out, because we will be destroyed in the process. “The world is not to be our criterion. We are not to associate with the ungodly and partake of their spirit, for they will lead the heart away from God to the worship of false gods. . . . It is by leading the followers of Christ to associate with the ungodly and unite in their amusements that Satan is most successful in alluring them into sin.” The Adventist Home, 459, 460.

Guard What You See

“I will not put before my eyes the wicked thing.” Psalm 101:3. Peter says to guard yourselves lest you be led away with the error of the unprincipled ones and you fall from your own steadfastness. (11 Peter 3:17.) This is happening today with frightful speed among those who profess to be waiting for the coming of the Son of man, because they are not guarded. Are you guarding yourself? Are you saying, “I have a moral responsibility to God, not just for with whom I associate, but for that at which I am looking?” When you look at something, are you evaluating whether you need to know about it, whether it is going to help you to be ready for heaven, or whether it is some base, wicked thing, just for entertainment?

In my observations, I have learned that people in our society believe that they are simply being entertained by what they are looking at, but the fact of the matter is, they are being educated, and it is not the Holy Spirit who is educating them. Always remember that.

If you are a Seventh-day Adventist, you claim that you are waiting and preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. Peter cautions to guard yourself, and David says he will not put any base thing in front of his eyes; he speaks of his hatred for such things. This is an important principle, and the Bible emphasizes it in more than one place. This is something to take to the Lord in your own devotions. Pray about it and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and willpower and self-control to look only at that that is pleasing in His eyes. Ask yourself, “Would the Lord be pleased with what I am looking at? Could the Lord sit right beside me on the sofa and could we watch this together?”

I am very fearful that many, many Seventh-day Adventists will lose their way to heaven and end up in hellfire as a result of what they are looking at on their videos and on their television sets. I am not out to point fingers; I just want people to think about what they are looking at and what they are listening to—is it helping them get ready for heaven or not?

“The sinners in Zion are terrified. Terror has seized the profane ones. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? The one who does righteousness; who speaks uprightly, who rejects the gain of oppressions, the one who will not accept a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed, and who shuts his eyes from seeing evil.” Isaiah 33:14–16. When there is terror in Zion among the profane ones, who is it that is going to dwell with the devouring fire? Remember, the Bible says, Our God is a devouring fire. (See Exodus 24:17; Isaiah 30:27.) When God comes, wherever sin is, it will be devoured.

Do you want to be one of those who shuts his ears from hearing about bloodshed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil? That is how we must be living if we are going to be ready when Christ comes. We will have to be guarding what we hear and see.

Guard What You Hear

We not only need to be guarding what we see, but we need to be guarding what we hear as well. To what are you listening? To what kinds of music are you listening? What kinds of videos are you watching and to what kinds of programs are you listening? Are the programs you look at or listen to ones you could enjoy with Jesus sitting beside you? Could you have a good conversation and enjoy the programs together? We need to be guarded.

Guard Your Appetite and Imagination

We need to guard what we taste, what we eat, and what we drink. There are many texts in the Bible regarding this, such as Isaiah 55; 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21; Daniel 1:8. The Bible teaches us that we need to be guarded concerning what we eat and drink. Paul says, “Whatsoever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

We need to guard our imaginations. Very often sin begins in the imagination. After a person has been thinking about something for a long time, he begins to talk about it, and than he eventually does it. The Bible has a lot to say about the imagination. Psalm 19:14 speaks about the words of the mouth and the thoughts or imagination of the heart—that they may be acceptable to the Lord. In 11 Corinthians 10:5, we are told that every thought is to be brought into subjection to Christ. We are not ready for Jesus to come until that occurs.

Guard your imagination, “In order that you might not be led astray by the error of the unprincipled ones.” 11 Peter 3:17. What does it mean to be unprincipled? The unprincipled ones are lustful or licentious. It has reference to unbridled lust, shamelessness, outrageous conduct, unchaste handling of males or females, and lawless works. That is the way it is described in 11 Peter 2:6–10.

There are good things on which to exercise the imagination. Ellen White says that we should try to picture the home of the saved; we should spend time trying to imagine what heaven is like. (See Marana-tha, 319, 355.) It is a good exercise for the imagination. There are good uses for the imagination, but the devil tries to divert the imagination to evil causes so that it is like it was before the Flood.

Avoid These Things

Those are the five things. We need to guard our association; we need to be guarded in what we see; we need to be guarded in what we hear; we need to be guarded in what we taste; and we need to guard our imaginations.

We must avoid these things, or we will all perish. “And the Lord saw that great was the evil of man upon the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all day long.” Genesis 6:5. That is how it was before the Flood. The people’s thoughts were evil all day long. That is the reason for the Flood, and Jesus said that it will be this way again just before the Second Coming of Christ.

Grow in Grace

To the people who have guarded themselves, who are not being led away by the error of the unprincipled ones into lustful, lawless conduct, the Bible says, “But grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” 11 Peter 3:18.

Very soon after penning these words, Peter would be crucified. He knew it, because the Lord had told him that he would be crucified just as He had been. Before his death, he had wanted to write one last time to the churches. As he came to the close of his letter—the last communication that he, as a human being in this world, would have before his own crucifixion—he wanted to appeal to the Christians to not become part of the great apostasy that he saw coming (described in detail in 11 Peter 2). He was telling us how we should be guarded and prepared, without spot and blameless, and as he closed his letter, he made this final appeal: “Grow, grow in grace.”

Will there ever be a time in this world when we do not need to grow in grace? No, there will never be a time in this world when this will not be applicable. This is something that we can pray about every morning. We can say, “Lord, I am commanded in your word that I am to grow in grace, and I am surrendering my life to you today, choosing to guard myself, choosing to do my part, but Lord, only You can supply the grace.” We need to do our part—to guard ourselves—but we need to ask the Lord to bring that miracle of grace about, because only He can supply it. The promise in the Scriptures is that He has all of the grace that we need for whatever our struggles may be—appetite, passion, the desire for pleasure, impatience, losing our temper. We need grace if we are going to overcome, and God has all of the grace that we need. We only need to ask for it.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

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

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.

Peter’s Counsel to Parents, Part VII: A Godly Example in the Home

The Lord has recently impressed upon me again the need of reminding Seventh-day Adventist parents of the important work to be done in the home. To all parents who profess to believe in the soon return of Christ, there is given a solemn work of preparation, that they and their children may be ready to meet the Lord at his coming. God desires to see parents take their position whole-heartedly for him, that there may be no perverting of the work he has given them to do, and that our children and youth may understand clearly the will of God concerning them. They are to learn to resist evil and choose righteousness, to turn from sin and become the faithful servants of God, prepared to give him their life’s highest service.

Influence of Godly Example

There are few parents who realize how important it is to give to their children the influence of a godly example. Yet this is far more potent than precept. No other means is so effective in training them in right lines. The children and youth must have a true copy in right-doing if they succeed in overcoming sin and perfecting a Christian character. This copy they should find in the lives of their parents. If they enter the city of God, and rejoice in the overcomer’s reward, some one must show them the way. By living before their children godly, consistent lives, parents may make the work before them clear and plain.

It is God’s desire that parents should be to their children the embodiment of the principles laid down in his Word. Let them make it their aim to train their children for God. To keep the feet of their children in the narrow path will call for faithful effort and constant prayer, but it is possible to train the children and youth to love and serve God. It is possible to inculcate the principles of righteousness, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, until the desires and inclinations of the heart are in harmony with the mind and will of God. When fathers and mothers realize the responsibility resting upon them, and respond to the appeals of God’s Spirit in behalf of this neglected work, there will be seen in the homes of the people transformations that will cause the angels to rejoice.

Parents Study 11 Peter 1

Let parents study the first chapter of the second epistle of Peter. Here is represented the exalted excellence of Bible truth. It teaches that the Christian’s experience is to be one of steady growth, of constant gain in graces and virtues that will give strength to the character and fit the soul for eternal life.

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you,” the apostle writes, “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to 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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and can not see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence 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 1:2–11.]

It is the privilege of parents and children to grow together in the grace of Christ. Those who comply with the conditions laid down in the Word will find full provision for their spiritual needs, and for power to overcome. Feeling the need of that grace which Heaven alone can furnish, and which Christ imparts to all who seek, they will become partakers of the heavenly gift.

Those who have accepted Bible truth are to keep the truth circumspectly. They are to follow on to know the Lord, gathering into their souls the light of heaven. But they must not stop there. They are to communicate the light and knowledge received. The Lord expects parents to make earnest, united efforts in the training of their children for him. In the home they are to cultivate the graces of the Spirit, in all their ways acknowledging him who through the sanctification of the Spirit has promised to make us perfect in every good work. When parents awaken to a true understanding of their neglected duties, they will marvel at the spiritual blindness that has characterized their past experience. And when they become learners of Christ, they will be taught how to do their work acceptably.

There has been too little definite work done in preparing our children for the tests that all must meet in their contact with the world and its influences. They have not been helped as they should to form characters strong enough to resist temptation and stand firm for the principles of right, in the terrible issues before all who remain faithful to the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Understand Temptations of Youth

Parents need to understand the temptations that the youth must daily meet, that they may teach them how to overcome them. There are influences in the school and in the world that parents need to guard against. God wants us to turn our eyes from the vanities and pleasures and ambitions of the world, and set them on the glorious and immortal reward of those who run with patience the race set before them in the gospel. He wants us to educate our children to avoid the influences that would draw them away from Christ. The Lord is soon coming, and we must prepare for this solemn event. My brethren and sisters, let your daily life in the home reveal the living principles of the Word of God. Heavenly agencies will cooperate with you as you seek to reach the standard of perfection, and as you seek to teach your children how to conform their lives to the principles of righteousness. Christ and heavenly agencies are waiting to quicken your spiritual sensibilities, to renew your activities, and to teach you of the deep things of God.

The Parents’ Role

Parents should be united in their faith, that they may be united in their efforts to bring their children up in the belief of the truth. Upon the mother in a special sense rests the work of molding the minds of the young children. But the father should feel more deeply than he usually does his responsibilities in the home. Upon him as well as upon the mother rests the duty of laboring for the spiritual welfare of his children. Business matters often keep the father much from home, and prevent him from taking an equal share in the training of the children; but whenever he can, he should unite with the mother in this work. Let parents work unitedly, instilling into their children’s hearts the principles of righteousness.

The vows of David recorded in Psalm 101 should be the vows of all upon whom rest the responsibilities of guarding the influences of the home. David declared: “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. . . . I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave unto me. A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbor, him will I cut off: him that hath a high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.” [Psalm 101:2–7.]

Most Important Work

Home missionary work is a most important work. It should be our first work to give that light to those related to us by the ties of kinship and blood. There should be no neglect on our part to do our utmost to bring them to an understanding of the knowledge we have received. “If any man provide not for his own,” the apostle Paul declared, “and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” [1 Timothy 5:8.]

Shall the people who have a solemn message to bear for the enlightenment and salvation of the world, make little or no effort for the members of their own family who are unconverted to the truth? Will parents allow their minds to be engrossed with trifling matters, to the neglect of the all-important question, “Is my family prepared to meet the Lord?” Will they assent to the great truths that are present truth for these last days, and be interested to see this message going to other peoples and lands, while they allow their children, their most precious possession, to go on unwarned of their danger and unprepared for the future? Shall those who, from the Word of God and through the witness of his Spirit, have had clear light concerning their duty allow the years to pass without making definite efforts to save their children?

Christ is waiting for the cooperation of human agencies, that he may impress the hearts of our children and youth. With intense desire heavenly beings long to see parents making that preparation which is essential if they and their children [are to] stand loyal to God in the coming conflict, and enter in through the gates to the city of God. Let parents arouse from their indifference, and redeem the time. Let them seek to correct the mistakes they have made in the past in the management of their children. Let those who have neglected their God-given work repent of their neglect, and in the fear of God take up their responsibilities. As they seek to magnify the law of God in the daily life, they will make that law honorable in the eyes of their children.

Review and Herald, October 12, 1911.

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.

Peter’s Counsel to Parents, Part VI: Christ the Youth’s Safeguard

The first chapter of second Peter is full of instruction, and strikes the keynote of victory. The truth is impressively forced upon the mind by the way it is presented in this chapter. Let us more abundantly recommend the study of these words, and the practising [sic] of these precepts. The apostle writes, “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 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.” [11 Peter 1:1–3.]

What a grand theme this is for contemplation,—the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ! Contemplating Christ and His righteousness, leaves no room for self-righteousness, for the glorifying of self. In this chapter there is no standstill. There is continual advancement in every stage in the knowledge of Christ. Through the knowledge of Christ is life eternal. In His prayer Jesus says, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.] In God we are to glory. The prophet says, “Thus saith the Lord, 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.” “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” “Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” [Jeremiah 9:23, 24; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 31; 11 Corinthians 10:15–18.] The testimony of prophets and apostles is in full accord on this subject. We are to glory in the Lord our God.

Continual Advancement

Peter continues, saying: “Where-by 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.” [11 Peter 1:4.] We have been called to the knowledge of Christ, and that is to the knowledge of glory and virtue. It is a knowledge of the perfection of the divine character, manifested to us in Jesus Christ, that opens up to us communion with God. It is by the great and precious promises that we are to become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Vital Relation with God Essential

What possibilities are opened up to the youth who lay hold of the divine assurances of God’s Word! Scarcely can the human mind comprehend what is the breadth and depth and height of the spiritual attainments that can be reached by becoming partakers of the divine nature. The human agent who yields obedience to God, who becomes a partaker of the divine nature, finds pleasure in keeping the commandments of God; for he is one with God; he holds as vital a relation with God as does the Son to the Father. He understands the oneness that Christ prayed might exist between the Father and the Son. Jesus prayed: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” [John 17:20–23.]

Lifted Standard

What privileges and blessings are granted to those who have obtained like precious faith with the disciples of Christ! Nothing is withheld from them. The apostle says, “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.” The standard is lifted up, and yet we are to reach it individually. We may attain unto glory and virtue, though weak, sinful mortals, by learning daily lessons in the school of Christ, by becoming conformed to the divine image, by manifesting his excellence of character, by adding grace to grace, by climbing round by round the ladder heavenward, by becoming complete in the Beloved. As we shall work upon the plan of addition, by faith adding grace to grace, God will work upon the plan of multiplication, and multiply grace and peace unto us. We are to be diligent students in the school of Christ, having a knowledge of his will, and becoming active laborers in his vineyard.

Plan of Multiplication

The apostle describes to us the plan on which we are to work. He says, “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. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence 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. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” [11 Peter 1:5–12.]

Youth to be Witnesses for Christ

If our youth would take heed to the rules laid down in this chapter, and practise [sic] them, what an influence they would exert on the side of right, whether they were . . . in our institutions, or in any place of responsibility! They would see this truth, and their life-work would be successful. They would realize the need of being much in prayer, of being rooted and grounded in the truth, so that by precept and example they might be living witnesses for Christ. They would then be like Paul, who after his conversion was a channel through which bright beams of light were shed upon the great plan of salvation. They would be workers together with God in re-shaping moral character, and would be instruments through which the image of God might be retraced in man. They would respond to the working of the Holy Spirit, and become one with Christ in God. No longer would the law which they have transgressed be a yoke of bondage, but it would be the law of liberty, the freedom of sonship. Having repented toward God, having exercised faith in Christ, they have experienced forgiveness, and esteem the law of God above gold, yea, above fine gold.

Freedom of Sonship

Jesus is the sin-bearer. He takes away our sins, and makes us partakers of His holiness. O what tender, pitying love dwells in the heart of Christ toward the purchase of His blood! He is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. There is power in these precious promises, and we should cooperate with the working of Christ, devoting all our God-given talents to the service of the Master, that the Holy Spirit may work through us to the glory and honor of Christ.

Learners in Christ

Students should have a growing, expanding idea of what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian means to be a learner in the school of Christ. It means the connecting of soul, mind, and body with divine wisdom. When this union exists between the soul and God, we are taught of God, who gives wisdom and knowledge. His Spirit imparts thoughts that are clear and holy, and gives the knowledge that lives through eternal ages. Those who are consecrated, diligent, persevering laborers, putting to use every ability, employing all their faculties for the glory of God; who are not slothful in business, but are fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, will reap an eternal reward. But it is our part to be courageous, to exercise firm faith in God.

Students to Share Knowledge

The end is near, and students should make most diligent effort to carry forward the work of acquiring knowledge that they may impart to others. If the converting power of God should come upon these souls, if they should come to realize that they need a power out of and far above themselves, they would not remain a day longer like mere machines, but would have a desire to work for God. Has the truth been lodged in the soul? Has the love of souls for whom Christ died become a living principle in their hearts? Unless they become vitally connected with God, they can never resist the unhallowed effects of self-love and self-indulgence and temptation to sin. If they were soundly converted to God, they would experience the love that dwells in the heart of Jesus; and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it would well up like an irrepressible stream, refreshing their own sterile lives, and refreshing all those who are connected with them. I long to address the young men and women who are so willing to reach only cheap standards. O that the Lord might influence their minds to see what perfection of character is! O that they might know the faith that works by love, and purifies the soul! We are living in days of peril. Christ alone can help us and give us the victory. Christ must be all in all to us; he must dwell in the heart; his life must circulate through us, as the blood circulates through the veins. His Spirit must be a vitalizing power that will cause us to influence others to become Christlike and holy.

The Youth’s Instructor, October 24, 1895; October 31, 1895.

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.

Peter’s Counsel to Parents, Part V: The Home School

I read from the second Epistle of Peter: “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 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.” [11 Peter 1:1–4.]

Establishment of New Schools

This scripture is full of instruction for those who are engaged in educational work for our youth. Our brethren in positions of responsibility should give special study to the management of matters in connection with the establishment of new schools for the training of our children, in order that the youth may be surrounded by circumstances the most favorable for the formation of a character strong enough to withstand the evils of this world.

Lesson from Israel

After the descendants of Abraham had spent many years in Egyptian servitude, God raised up Moses to deliver them from their oppressors. In order to induce the Egyptians to heed the message given to them through Moses, God brought upon them many plagues. But they continued to harden their hearts. Because of their stubborn resistance, Moses was at last directed to say to Pharaoh, “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My firstborn; and I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me. And if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.” [Exodus 4:22, 23.]

Before Egypt was visited by this terrible judgment, the word of the Lord came to the fathers and mothers among the Israelites, directing them to gather their children with them into the house, there to remain until the destroying angel had passed over the land. “Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians, and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.” [Exodus 12:21–23.]

“The children of Israel . . . did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.” [Verse 28.]

“It came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon: and all the firstborn of cattle.” [Verse 29.] God passed over the homes of the Israelites. Upon the children of the parents who were faithful in gathering their little ones within the home, no judgment fell.

This experience of the Israelites is a wonderful lesson for us today. In this time of peril, God-fearing parents, like the fathers and mothers of ancient Israel, should understand the will of the Lord concerning themselves and their children. In planning for the education of their children outside the home, they should realize that it is not safe now to send them to public schools. Parents should endeavor to send their children to schools where they can obtain an education based on a scriptural foundation—an education to be gained gradually, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little.

Christian Schools

Some may ask, “How are such schools to be established?” We are not a rich people, but if we pray in faith, and let the Lord work in our behalf, He will open ways before us to establish small schools in retired places for the education of our youth not only in the Scriptures and in book-learning but in many lines of manual labor.

Neglect of Parents in Home School

The necessity for establishing such schools is urged upon me very strongly because of the cruel neglect of many parents properly to educate their children in the home school. Multitudes of fathers and mothers have seemed to think that if the lines of control were put into the hands of their children, they would develop into useful young men and young women. But the Lord has instructed me in regard to this matter. In the visions of the night I saw standing by the side of these neglected children the one who was cast out of the heavenly courts because he originated sin. He, the enemy of souls, was standing by, watching for opportunities to gain control of the mind of every child whose parents had not given faithful instruction in regard to Satan’s snares.

Home to be First School

Upon every Christian parent there rests the solemn obligation of giving to his children an education that will lead them to gain a knowledge of the Lord, and to become partakers of the divine nature through obedience to God’s will and way. A child’s first school should be his home. His first instructors should be his father and his mother. His first lessons should be the lessons of respect, obedience, reverence, and self-control. If he is not instructed aright by his parents, Satan will instruct him in evil through agencies that are most objectionable. How important, then, is the school in the home! Here the character is first shaped. Here the destiny of souls is often largely influenced. Even the parents who are endeavoring to do their best, have not a hundredth part of the realization they should have of the value of a human soul.

Ideal Instruction

The school in the home should be a place where children are taught that the eye of God is upon them, observing all that they do. If this thought were deeply impressed upon the mind, the work of governing children would be made much easier. In the home school our boys and girls are being prepared to attend a church school when they reach a proper age to associate more intimately with other children. Constantly parents should keep this in view, realizing that their children are God’s purchased little ones, to be trained for lives of usefulness in the Master’s service and for a home in the future, eternal world. The father and the mother, as teachers in the home school, should consecrate hands, tongue, brain, and every power of the being to God, in order that they may fulfill their high and holy mission.


To shield their children from contaminating influences, parents should instruct them in principles of purity. Those who form the habit of obedience and self-control in the home life will have but little difficulty in school life, and, if surrounded by Christian influences, will escape many temptations that usually beset the youth. Let us train our children so that they will remain true to God under all circumstances and in all places. In their tender years let us surround them with influences that will tend to strengthen character.

Parents who give their children proper instruction at home, will train them to obey their teachers at school. And, unless surrounded by unusual circumstances, they will, in time, see the necessity of sending their children to some school outside the home. This school may be simply a church-school, or it may be an intermediate school or a large training-school. I am pleased to learn that here in Southern California you have established a school at Fernando, and that it will be opened in about a week. I am glad that the Lord has wrought for you in providing a place for the education of your children.

A few days ago I had the privilege of seeing the buildings and the surroundings of the Fernando school. My time was very limited, but I was thankful for the opportunity of visiting the school grounds. I am glad that you are several miles away from the city of Los Angeles. You have good buildings, and are in a favorable place for schoolwork. I greatly desire that you shall make a right beginning. In planning for the erection of cottages for our brethren and sisters who may move there, be careful not to allow buildings to be put up too near the school property. Try to secure the land lying near the school, so that it will be impossible for houses to be built close to the campus. The land may be used for agricultural purposes. Later on, you may find it advisable to introduce various trades for the employment and training of the students; but at present about all that you can do is to teach them how to cultivate the land, so that it shall yield its fruit. —Manuscript 54, 1903, pp. 1–4. (“The Work of Our Fernando School,” remarks, September 17, 1902.) Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 2–7.

To be continued . . .

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.

Peter’s Counsel to Parents, Part IV

These words [11 Peter 1:1–13] should mean a great deal to us; and we should study this chapter diligently, that we may learn to practice the virtues it presents before us. If we do these things, the apostle says, we “shall never fall.” It is of great consequence to us in our spiritual experience that we have the assurance that we are treading securely and walking understandingly in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish this afternoon to address particularly the parents and children. These should understand that they have solemn obligations resting upon them—the most solemn that ever rested upon mortals. Let parents take up their work and labor intelligently for the salvation of their families.

Children be Prepared for Eternity

Fathers and mothers, we are verging upon the eternal world, and that which we should now most earnestly seek to understand is what we should do to inherit eternal life. If you will follow on to know the Lord, you will know that His going forth is prepared as the morning. We must prepare for the great crisis that is just before us. Will you not sense your responsibilities in regard to the education and training of your children in spiritual matters?

Here are the children. Your daughters are inclined, if they see a dress different from that which they have, to desire a dress similar to that. Or perhaps they want something else that they see others have, which you do not feel would be in accordance with your faith to grant them. Will you allow them to tease this thing out of you, letting them mold you instead of molding them according to the principles of the gospel? Our children are very precious in the sight of God. Let us teach them the word of God and train them in His ways. It is your privilege to teach your children to live so that they will have the commendation of heaven.

Are we preparing for heaven? We say we are; and we ought to be making ready for the future immortal life. We should be so conducting ourselves that we shall make right impressions upon those who are brought in contact with us. Let us not encourage our children to follow the fashions of the world; and if we will be faithful in giving them a right training, they will not do this. But if you let your children rule you, they will surely get away from the pure principles of the word of God and will walk in the ways of the world. Let them see how much the Lord sacrificed in their behalf when He came to this world. There was everything to oppose His advance, yet He gave us a perfect example in every detail of life—just the example that we follow and teach our children to follow.

Proper Dress for Children

Dress your children in simple and neat clothes, but do not let them have anything that they may suppose they want. They may ask for a dress that is cut low in the neck because it is the fashion to wear them so. Who has supposed such a fashion? It is not a right fashion, and we should not allow ourselves to consider it right. We should dress our children in such a way that they will learn to fashion their lives in simple orderly lines. We are to be preparing for the grand review that is soon to take place, and our children must have a part in this work of preparation. We want the light, the pure light of heaven, to shine into our hearts.

Heaven’s Interest in Children

All heaven is interested in our children, and parents grieve the Spirit of God when they fail to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Parents, be kind to your children, but be firm. Let them see that you mean all that you tell them. The fashions of the world often take a ridiculous form, and you must take a firm position against them. Our manner of dress, as well as our deportment, is to be a ministry, an education.

Parents, you are responsible for the work of bringing up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. These children need instruction line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. You may feel annoyed sometimes because your children go contrary to what you have told them. But have you ever thought that many times you go contrary to what the Lord has commanded you to do that you might prepare yourselves for His work and know His will as revealed in His word? If you will follow on to know the Lord you can make a splendid representation of Christ before the world.

Gentleness in Discipline

Never manifest passion when your children do wrong. When the mother gives her child a jerk or a blow, do you think it enables him to see the beauty of the Christian character? No indeed; it only tends to raise evil feelings in the heart, and the child is not corrected at all. We need to consider, as we endeavor to do our duty intelligently, that our children are to be brought into right relation to God, that they may have an entrance through the gates into the City of God and have right to all the advantages that heaven can give.

Forming Children’s Characters

We have but little time now. Let us prepare earnestly for the solemn scenes of the future. The Lord would have us work under the direction of His word. It does not show any true love to let your children do as they please, and to think that in doing so they are doing just right. Husband and wife should be united in the work of seeking to form in their children correct habits of speech and conduct. If they will draw constantly in Christ’s lines, the will of Christ will be rule in their lives, and they will see of the salvation of God in their homes. Let them invite the Spirit of God to act His part in training the children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. With this power to help in every time of need, they will obtain the victory.

Has not God given you every evidence of His love? Did He not allow Jesus to come to this world as our pattern? Men could not endure the perfection of Christ’s character, and they took and crucified Him. There is a crucifixion that must go on in our lives, a constant dying to self and sin. We must walk circumspectly, that our lives may preach the gospel of Christ to those with whom we associate. If we will speak and walk circumspectly, the light of Christ will be revealed in our lives.

I desired at the beginning of my talk to speak these words to you. I leave them with you to think about. Let us be faithful to the duties of the home life. Let your children understand that obedience must reign there. Teach them to distinguish between that which is sensible and that which is foolish in the matter of dress, and furnish them with clothes that are neat and simple. As a people who are preparing for the soon return of Christ we should give to the world an example of modest dress in contrast with the prevailing fashion of the day. Talk these things over, and plan wisely what you will do, then carry out your plans in your families. Determine to be guided by higher principles than the notions and desires of your children.

Seek Confession of Heart

Parents need to come up on a higher platform. They have a sacred work to do in bringing their children into harmony with Christ. Parents, do not neglect this work. You need to move constantly in the counsel and fear of the Lord God of Israel. Talk with your children in regard to the lessons of the word; pray with them. Seek for confession of heart from them. Show them which is the wrong and which is the right way, and their need of yielding their wills to the will of God if they would be overcomers. I see many parents taking a course with their children that will shut them out of the kingdom of God. O that these might now repent, and seek to redeem the time, that God might help them to act their part.

I did not expect to speak more than a few words to you this afternoon. I want you to have the light and blessing that the Lord desires to give you. Reach out for these blessings, seek for a fitness for eternal life, that others may see that you are coming into harmony with heaven. When the soul takes its position on the side of right, all heaven is filled with rejoicing and praise and thanksgiving. Shall we not take hold with Christ to do our best? Pray with your children. Impress their minds with the thought that Christ was given to our world that we might love His beauty of character and seek to follow Him in every particular. If you will follow on to know the Lord, the blessing of God will rest upon you. We need to glorify God more than we do, to praise Him with uplifted soul. If we would study more faithfully the virtues of His character, we would desire to be more like Him. If in the minor points we would carry out the directions of the Lord, He will give us strength to follow Him in the large matters. We need to see the necessity of bringing the principles of the truth into every purpose and action of the life.

There is a large work to be carried on in this locality. Consider how God has wrought to bring these buildings into our possession. We have made every possible effort to establish the work in this place; and there are but few who know of the real difficulties we have had to meet. Now we are in possession and, for this I thank the Lord with heart and soul and voice.

Contrary to the World

There are many here who will need to take their position directly contrary to the world’s customs and fashions. They may not want to do this, but this must make no difference. We are to have a large experience here in a little while, and everything should be brought into line with right principles. Here are men and women of capability. We want you to realize your capabilities, and act your part in carrying out the purposes of God for this place. Here are men who are preparing to enter on high positions of truth; but they are not ready for these positions. They need to be reconverted, and to let the blessing of God come into the life to transform the character. If those who come here to obtain an education will seek to help in every possible way, God will multiply blessings to them, and giving them His knowledge and His grace will make them overcomers through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.

(Manuscript 45, 1911. Sermon at Loma Linda, California, November 6, 1911.)

To be continued . . .

“Simplicity . . . no single word could describe Ellen G. White as accurately as this one. Born into a family where the deeper values of life took priority over social standing, surrounded by the grueling poverty of the early 1800s and severely handicapped, she found herself elevated from mediocrity to a position of guiding leadership in a great church, her actions aided and directed by a seemingly endless number of inspired revelations.” Rene Noorbergen, Ellen G. White Prophet of Destiny, TEACH Services, Inc., Brushton, New York, 2001, vii.