The Consecrated Way, Part I – Peter’s Ladder

The Christian life is never on an even plain. If you are a Christian and you are walking on the level, there is something wrong with you. You must always be climbing in the development of Christian character. If you are not climbing, you are automatically going downhill. This article is designed to afford us the opportunity to do some climbing—a ladder, Peter’s ladder.

“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.” 2 Peter 1:1-4.

The Path to the Foot of Peter’s Ladder

I believe the Lord expects each and every one of us to climb that ladder in our development of Christian character. If there is any hope of us developing a character like that of our Lord Jesus Christ, such as Peter talks about, this is the process. Apparently there were some who had obtained that precious faith.

It is necessary for us to apply that which the Lord has given us in His Word so that we can become more and more like Him. Why do we go to church Sabbath after Sabbath? It is not to fellowship; it is not to be entertained; it is to learn the prescription that God has for us that moves us out of a sinful nature into a divine nature. There is a process that is necessary for us to go through so that we can indeed reflect the image of Jesus in our lives. That is why we go, so we might be able to glean some word, some help along that pathway to the kingdom of heaven.

There are several things that come to our attention in this passage. Notice verse three says, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.”

Divine Power

Divine power, from which we may partake, is there. It is ready, and available for us. The Lord does not expect us to accomplish something that is impossible for us to do. He only asks us to accomplish that which is possible. If it is possible to accomplish divine principles, then He is going to give us the power to accomplish divine principles.

Our problem is that, much of the time, we try to accomplish divine principles in our own human strength. We cannot do it. It does not work. It takes divine power to accomplish divine principles. And so, He has given us that power. How do we grab hold of that divine power? It is through faith; faith that will allow us to do what God says to do.

All too often we find ourselves listening to the voice of the deceiver, paying attention to what he says and do nothing about the things that pertain to life and godliness that have been outlined for us. That divine power is ours, and it is backed by divine promises. Verse four tells us that divine promises allow us to come into the presence of God and to become a partaker of the divine nature.

That holds quite a challenge, coupled with the incentive that there is the possibility, through divine power, that we can become a partaker of the divine nature. I do not know how many of us can grasp that kind of challenge, that we do not just have divine power to live a natural life, but we have divine power that helps us to become partakers of the divine nature. That is what Peter is trying to convey to us.

If, somehow, that could just sink into our consciousness, I believe it would make a tremendous difference in the lives of Christians today. We can indeed become partakers of the divine nature. All of this, of course, is for the purpose of helping us climb the ladder, step by step, round by round, to lead us into an experience with our God and allow us to, as Peter says, escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust,” through desire.

“Giving All Diligence”

That is what is before us in this work. Verse 5 says: “And beside this,” or in addition to this, (in addition to the divine power that is given to us so that we can become a partaker of these precious promises, and then the divine nature,) “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.…”

We need to have faith in order to step up on the ladder. The first round is virtue, but we need to have faith to get there, for “without faith it is impossible,” the Bible says, “to please Him.” Verse 6.

What is diligence? I want to share with you what I found in Webster’s Dictionary. It has two definitions. The first definition is “persevering application,” and the second is “the attention and care legally expected or required of a person.”

“And beside this, giving all diligence [persevering application and attention and care legally expected or required of a person], add to your faith virtue.” In Christianity at large, we hear a lot of talk about love, grace, and believing today, but we hear too little of what God actually expects of us. According to what Peter is conveying, there is a legal responsibility resting upon each one of us as Christians.

A Binding Legal Agreement

When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, it places us in a legal agreement with God. Do you know what the theological word for that legal agreement is called? It is called a covenant. God has made a new covenant with His people, a new legal agreement, if you please. He expects something of us and it does not take us too long, as we begin to read the Bible, to discover that God not only expects, but requires something of us.

In the book of Genesis, chapter three, you discover the fact that God has requirements upon His people that are based upon legal aspects. The Lord made, if you please, a legal agreement with Adam and Eve concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was a covenant. The cost of breaking that covenant, or that legal agreement, was death.

In reality, that same agreement is given to each one of us—obey and live. The Ten Commandments are the basis of obedience that God requires of us; they are the covenant. The covenant was ratified or sealed, with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to keep them.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, Are we really taking God seriously? Are we making a persevering application into our lives of these requirements, or do we make excuses instead? The apostle admonishes us to make persevering application to the “things that pertain unto life and godliness,…giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.…” 2 Peter 1:3-5.

A Measure of Faith

Here again is a word that we have heard, that we are familiar with to a degree, but what does it really mean? What is virtue? Going again to Daniel Webster we read, “Virtue, conformity to a standard of right, morality; a particular moral excellence.” So what is Peter telling us? He is saying that the first thing that is necessary is faith, but you do not stop there. You add to it. Without faith, we cannot go any further. Without faith, we cannot climb any higher on the ladder of Christian character perfection.

Faith is essential. Faith grows. How much blood did you have when you were first born? All the blood you have now? No. I do not know the pint capacity of an infant, but I know as an adult it is normally about 13 pints. But you do not have 13 pints of blood as an infant.

When a person is born of the Spirit, a measure of faith is present. At first this measure is a small amount. When faith is exercised, it will grow. Just as the physical body grows. Faith grows as we exercise it and as we come more and more into conformity with what is right.

Of course, the standard of right is the Ten Commandments, the divine principles of God. Divine principles, accomplished by divine power, through divine promises. Do not let anybody ever tell you that you do not need to, or that you cannot, keep the Ten Commandments. Only Christianity in a state of apostasy would ever make such a statement, and it is for sure that the Bible does not teach such a thing.

Everywhere we look in the Bible, we find that we are to give diligence to the Words of God. As Verse 5 said, we are to “add to your [our] faith” a conformity to a standard of right. There are many examples we could look at in the writings of Inspiration to gather some direction concerning this matter of conformity to a standard of right.

Moral Excellence

One example is the life of Daniel. Certainly his was a supreme example of moral excellence, and because of his consecration to the God of heaven, he served as the Prime Minister of Babylon through several changes of government. That only happened to Daniel because of his conformity to the standard of right.

Then, of course, there was Joseph. Kidnapped, sold as a slave into Egypt, being made to do things that were strange to him, he was willing to do what he could to please God. Rather than taking the attitude that it was all God’s fault, Joseph had virtue. A lot of times we excuse ourselves by saying, Well, God put me there; God caused all of this, so why should I worry about it? Why do I not just go with the flow?

You were never called to go with the flow. You were called of faith to virtue. We so often hear of Joseph and Daniel, but there have been men all through the ages who have added virtue to their faith. We can read about them in Hebrews 11.

One we do not hear too much about is King Asa. This man’s life was nearly as exemplary as Daniel’s or Joseph’s, but the Bible does say in 1 Kings 15:11, 14, that “Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David his father.… [And] Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days.” What was it that prompted such a testimony to be written about Asa?

Would you not like Inspiration to record that about your life, that your life was perfect all the days of your life? I believe, in Asa’s life, that it was basically the result of climbing Peter’s ladder.

Prompted to do Right

2 Chronicles gives us an insight into what prompted Asa to do right.

“And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you. Now, for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found of them. And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, or to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries. And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:1-7.

These words had a great impact upon Asa’s life. He began to see that the Lord had great plans for him and for His people. “And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.” Ibid., Verse 8.

There were many areas around him that he influenced by the change. There are some people, who are in administrative positions, who can make change possible through their administration. There are others who can make change by their influence. Asa made change by seeing that all the idols were taken away.

As Asa followed the Words of Inspiration, change began to take place. The question we need to ask ourselves today is, Does that apply to us individually? Of course, it does. But, you may say, I may not be able to make such a large impact as Asa did in removing all the idols of the land of Judah and Benjamin, so why should I try? You have been given divine promises, coupled with divine power, so that you can become a partaker of the divine nature. That rests with us individually.

Learning From Someone Else’s Experience

Asa made a change. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Does that apply to us, then? Can what took place in Asa’s life happen in my life, if I follow the same direction that Asa did? Of course! God, in His great mercy, has left lessons for us who are living right down in the end of time.

Lessons were given by the lives of these people who lived in distant times, and the Lord expects us to study those lives and make application to our own life. He expects us to study them and learn. Paul evidently had anticipated the fact that some would make various forms of excuses to justify not following the counsel. So he goes on to say, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Verses 12, 13.

The Lord is not playing games with us. There are some very serious issues at stake. Those issues become more and more serious as we near the end of time, because the deception level raises significantly as well.

2 Chronicles 15:8 tells us that one of the important aspects of Asa’s reform, apart from tearing down the groves and the idols, was the re-establishment of the altar of the Lord. Although he renewed, or rebuilt, that altar, as reform was taking place, they did not drive out the Canaanites. They were content to live in those conditions.

Ephraim became as corrupted as the Canaanites, and later, in the days of Hosea, things were so bad that even the Lord could not move them away from their apostasy. Finally the Lord said, Leave Ephraim alone, let him be joined to his idols. (See Hosea 4:17.) Sadly, as a result, in Revelation 7, the tribe of Ephraim is not listed, they are eternally lost.

Before this time, they were in a state of decline, but there were still many who were faithful within the boundaries of Ephraim. The testimony is that “they fell to him out of Israel in abundance.” Verse 9. Just like falling out of a tree, we might say. When we make a commitment like that of Asa—to put the idols of the land away that have been influencing our lives and renew the altar of the Lord, not only in family worship but also in private personal worship—the Lord is going to move for us.

Look again at verse 8. “And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.” Again, this is very important information for us, because I believe we are living in a time that parallels this stage of Israel very closely.

Scripture says, “…Believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper.”

2 Chronicles 20:20. If we do not care about the Bible and about the Spirit of Prophecy, that special counsel the Lord has been pleased to give us in these last days; if we are content to ignore what this counsel says, we are going to slide back further, and further, and further, just like Israel did when they did not pay attention to the words of Inspiration that had been given to them.

The testimony of the Bible and of the Spirit of Prophecy is what we need to stand in the strength, the might, and the power of the Lord. If we allow anyone to influence us away from what we know is right, we are going to lose out on eternal life. It is just that simple, regardless of whether or not we believe in the Lord. Jesus says, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things that I ask you to do?” (See Luke 6:46.)

Breaking the Shackles of Sin

Do you claim to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are there things that you are doing that you know are not in harmony with His will for you? Are you willing to change? Are you letting your husband or your wife hold you back from doing what you know you should? Are you letting your work or your friends hold you back? If you are, it is serious business. You are bound by the shackles of sin, and you need to break free.

That is just where the devil would hope that you would stay, but you do not have to remain there. Take that measure of faith that has been given to you. Step up to Peter’s ladder and place your foot on the first round of virtue—giving all diligence, step up on that round.

“The Lord demands uprightness in the smallest [matters] as well as the largest matters. Those who are accepted at last as members of the heavenly court will be men and women who here on earth have sought to carry out the Lord’s will in every particular, who have sought to put the impress of heaven upon their earthly labors.” Review and Herald, January 11, 1912. That should be the goal of every one of us in our walk.

“Ample provision has been made that the people of God may attain perfection of character.…Let every individual draw for himself from the inexhaustible source [divine power] “of all moral and intellectual power, in order that he may work the works of righteousness.…The Holy Spirit ever abides with him who is seeking for perfection of Christian character.” Ibid., November 30, 1897.

If you want perfection of Christian character, mark it down, the Holy Spirit is given so that it can become a reality. This is a promise given in Peter’s instruction to us in 2 Peter 1 . “The Holy Spirit ever abides with him who is seeking for perfection of Christian character.”

Are we looking for a greater abundance of the Holy Spirit, not just an abiding, but an outpouring? We all need to be looking for that outpouring. But we will never receive it until we are seeking for Christian perfection of character. The Holy Spirit will be falling, perhaps all around us. We can be right there in the pew, and it will miss us, and we will be as dry as the hills of Gilboa when we go out the door, while everybody else is soaking wet. That is sad!

Great and Precious Promises

“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.” 2 Peter 1:3, 4.

This is God’s plan. We have stepped on the first round. We are going to climb the ladder as we deal with other issues that move us toward Christian perfection.

The Consecrated Way – Knowledge – Part II

We are continuing on in our series entitled, “The Consecrated Way,” which is really a climb up Peter’s ladder. 2 Peter 1:3–5 says, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.”

Gaining Knowledge

The second rung of Peter’s ladder, as we begin to reach toward heaven in our consecrated way, is knowledge. Last month we looked at the first rung of virtue, having been reinforced by faith. In the process of sanctified living there needs to be a continual process. One of the greatest dangers that Christians face is to reach a point in life where there is a sense of self-satisfaction—a sense of having arrived.

We see this even manifested in certain church doctrines, such as once saved always saved. Some churches teach that once you accept Jesus as your Saviour, that is all you need to do. But that is not correct, as far as the Bible is concerned. There is the walk. Indeed, there is the climb that takes place. Jesus addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said that there is the narrow path. There is the uphill walk. He did not say that it was a broad road; He said it was a narrow, uphill path. (See Matthew 7:13, 14.)

That means that some effort needs to be put forth as we walk with Christ day by day, making those decisions that will establish us in the faith more than ever before. We need to walk in that respect and never come to a point where we are self-satisfied in our process of Christian living.

Having All the Answers

It is not like the world in terms of achievements and education. In the world of education, we think when you have received your Ph.D. that you have arrived; there is no higher level of education that you can reach.

I met a man one time who had five doctorate degrees. I was studying with some people who felt they had to call in some reinforcements, and this was the man they called.

My Bible students felt that, because of his level of education, he could answer all the questions. He told me he had decided that maybe he would go for an M. D., because he did not have one of those. He was attending Loma Linda University at that time. He said, “Some people collect stamps; I collect sheepskins [degrees].”

Never Stop

When you reach that level, do you think you have finally arrived?

Dear people, as far as the Christian process is concerned, we never stop learning. It is a continual process, learning more and more all the time. Indeed, throughout all eternity we will learn. A lot of people have the idea that when we arrive in heaven there will be a cloud, a harp, and a halo, and we will just sit around all day eating from the Tree of Life.

No! God has a better plan than that. We will continue to research and to learn the intricacies and to probe the wonders that God has created for us. And each one of those will share something more about the great God that we serve. We will be learning throughout all eternity.

“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.” Acts of the Apostles, 530, 531.

Learning to Know Him

We have discovered, in the past, that it has been helpful for us to define our terms so we are able to see the intent of what Peter is saying to us in this passage of Scripture. We have an idea of what the word knowledge means, but let us define it a little more carefully.

The Dictionary of New Testament Words says that this word, used by Peter, has a greater meaning than to just know something. It means exact or full knowledge, discernment, recognition; a greater participation by the knower in the object known, thus more powerfully influencing him. Knowing that definition, it is not surprising that Peter used this word in illustrating the growth of the Christian in character perfection. To be satisfied with anything less than exact or full knowledge about spiritual things is a sin.

There are too many who are satisfied with only a superficial knowledge, either as it comes from the preacher or as it comes from some other person. They will depend upon someone like that for their knowledge about the truths of God, and they make that the foundation of their faith. Indeed, if that is the case, they have already gotten off the track.

The Bible says, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth.” John 17:17. That leaves no room for human speculation, as we find going around today. The devil is a deceiver. If you do not know that, I am telling you that he is a deceiver, and he has been trying, for years, to undermine those truths that have been established by God in His Word.

At this late date in earth’s history, we cannot afford to listen to what false knowledge is proclaiming—a knowledge that, when examined in the light of the Word of God and of the Spirit of Prophecy, only leaves us chaff and no grain.

The Attack of Evolution

One of the attacks, one of the inroads that is being made against the Bible today is evolution. It has been sounding for a long, long time, but it is reaching a crescendo.

Evolutionists say man has been on this earth three million years plus, and that the universe is the result of a big bang. We find that these concepts of evolution are designed, by the deceiver of our souls, for only one reason: to strike right at the very heart of the Ten Commandment moral law—the Sabbath. Because if the earth took long eons of time to be created and to come into being, then what need is there of the Sabbath as the memorial of the rest that God took when it was all finished at the end of six days? We need to be very careful that we are not listening to the serpent, as did Eve, when we hear something that does not match up with the Word of God.

God’s Word is True

We can know that God’s Word is true, through prophecy, which establishes it without question. We can depend upon it. When we hear something strange that does not match up, we need to flee from it. The highest and supreme end of all knowledge, of course, is the knowledge of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, in John 17:3, “This is life eternal.” Evolution does not promise that. God’s Word does.

“This is life eternal,” Jesus said, “that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” The prophet Jeremiah declares, “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 lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23, 24. It appears to me that these are the things that we need to know.

In the book Ministry of Healing, 409, we are told, “Like our Saviour, we are in this world to do service for God. We are here to become like God in character, and by a life of service to reveal Him to the world. In order to be co-workers with God, in order to become like Him and to reveal His character, we must know Him aright. We must know Him as He reveals Himself.”

God’s Character Attributes

Going back to what we just read from Jeremiah, if we are to glory in anything, we should glory in the fact that knowing God is knowing His character attributes and those which He outlines are very specific here. Knowledge, the second rung of this ladder, is to lead us to know these character attributes of God: loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness.

I believe if there is anyone whom we could trust to tell us about the loving kindness of God, it would be the apostle John. John was called the beloved disciple, and he tells us in 1 John 4:7, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” If you do not love, you do not know God, but if you love, then you know God. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Verses 8–11.

That is pretty good counsel, don’t you think? This is the process of character development—learning about God, and then putting that knowledge into operation as we live day by day. You see, knowledge cannot be all theoretical. It also has to be practical. There is a great difference between the two.

Learning is not Knowing

A person who has theoretical knowledge has only heard or read or studied, but that is as far as it goes. We call them “armchair theologians.” To give a little clearer illustration of the theoretical, we could consider learning how to bake a loaf of bread, perhaps in a cooking class.

We can learn about all the different measurements of ingredients, about what a teaspoon is, a tablespoon, and a cup. We can learn about all the ingredients, whether the flour is bleached or whether it is whole grain. We can learn about the stove, about the manufacturer, and about the temperature settings. We can learn how to use the stove, and yet never bake a loaf of bread.

What profit is there in all of this? Absolutely nothing! Knowledge only becomes useful as it is put into operation, into practical use. You need to take the ingredients down off the shelf. You need to turn the stove to the proper temperature; you need to mix those ingredients together in the proper amounts; put it into the oven, and then you have results that are beneficial, not only to you, but to others as well.

All too often those who call themselves Christians today do not put their knowledge into practice. They still have the ingredients on the shelf. It does absolutely no good for them, or for others, to know that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), unless we are taking that knowledge, utilizing it in our own life, and sharing it with others, sharing the loving kindness of God with those who do not know it. That is where real value is found.

Use It or Lose It

Knowledge becomes like manna that fell in the wilderness. If it was laid up, not used, it began to stink and to breed worms. Kind of an awesome thought when you think about knowledge that is not put into practice; it is totally useless! What am I saying in all of this? Just this, God expects something from you. He expects you to learn; He expects you to develop a knowledge of Him—that He is a God of love. And then He expects you to share that love with other people, following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was on this earth.

“Taking humanity upon Him, Christ came to be one with humanity, and at the same time to reveal our heavenly Father to sinful human beings. He who had been in the presence of the Father from the beginning, He who was the express image of the invisible God, was alone able to reveal the character of the Deity to mankind. He was in all things made like unto His brethren. He became flesh even as we are. . . . He shared the lot of men; yet He was the blameless Son of God. He was a stranger and sojourner on the earth—in the world, but not of the world; tempted and tried as men and women today are tempted and tried, yet living a life free from sin. Tender, compassionate, sympathetic, ever considerate of others, He represented the character of God, and was constantly engaged in service for God and man.” The Ministry of Healing, 422, 423. To engage in service is really to put into practical operation the knowledge that we learn.

A True Court of Justice

Another aspect, concerning the knowledge of God that Jeremiah talks about, is judgment. Psalm 9:16 says that “The Lord is known by the judgment which He executeth.” Revelation 16:7 says that the judgments of God are true and righteous.

Do you not wish that could be said of the courts of the land today? Part of the process of knowledge, concerning the great God of heaven, is that we know that He is the God who judges with equality. He is no respecter of persons, and we see this in the life of Jesus when He was here on this earth. He was not impressed with one person over another, like we are, so often, today.

He dealt fairly with everybody, Jew and Gentile. If we add to our faith virtue, and to our virtue knowledge, it is going to lead us to judge fairly among our fellow human beings, just as Jesus did, because we are learning of Him. If we are learning of Him, we are going to become like Him, for by beholding we will indeed become changed. (See 2 Corinthians 3:18.)

People will be blessed by our lives, because they will know that we have been with God. One of the great tragedies of Christianity is that there are those who say one thing, they have all the theory, but they do something different. There are probably more people who will be shut out of heaven because of this one factor than anything else.

Self-deceived Christians

I am sure you have all heard someone say, “Oh, I know about Christians. Do not get involved with them; they will rip you off every time.” I suppose we all have known people who have represented that kind of life. Then you could multiply that by the hundreds of people whom they have driven away from Christ because of it. What a terrible tragedy that is!

It is a double tragedy! Do you know why it is a double tragedy? There is a tragedy on both sides, not only for the perpetrator but for the one who has been perpetrated upon. The one who is the perpetrator is self-deceived. He does not have knowledge. He has an armchair knowledge; he does not understand what it means to be honest and true in all his dealings. And for the person who has suffered at his hands, it is a tragedy, because it becomes even more difficult for God to reach his heart again. It is like putting a steel band around the heart so that it cannot be penetrated. What a sad thing that is.

Are Christians perfect? No, they have their failings, but when people purport one thing while stabbing you in the back, that is quite another thing. I think we need to realize that we all are subject to failing. We need to behold Jesus, because by beholding Jesus we become changed, and we do not get involved in situations where judgment is perverted; where situations are taken advantage of; where discrimination is taking place and oppression is being exercised.

We are still faced with these problems today, and we need to get beyond that. God never perverts judgment. He does not say one thing and do another. His theory and His practice are always the same, and He expects that of every one of us. If we are learning of Him, if we are adding the only knowledge that is worthwhile, then our theory and our practice are going to match His.

The Righteousness of Christ

The last area to consider is our understanding of the knowledge of Christ’s righteousness. No knowledge of God would ever be complete without that part which reveals the righteousness of Jesus Christ, for it is the righteousness of Christ which is able to save man. It is the righteousness of Christ which can give power to stem the tide of evil that wants to flood over the life. It is the righteousness of Christ which can make a sinner acceptable to God, and it is the righteousness of Christ which fits us for a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

It is only the righteousness of Christ which, when properly understood, brings us to understand the law and the gospel. How thankful I am for the Spirit of Prophecy which has been given to us to convey the proper concept of the righteousness of Christ. These words of inspiration help us define those special areas of potential problems that we will be facing in the last days of this earth’s history.

There are those who, again, are trying to tear down this gift, trying to get it out of the church, supposing that somehow the philosophy of man can replace the words of inspiration with something better. But woe to the one who falls for such deceitful flatteries as this. You see, without the knowledge of the righteousness of Christ, in its full meaning, as it has been given through the words of inspiration, we are in trouble.

There is no such thing as once saved, always saved. There is no such thing as accepting Jesus and that is all you have to do. “The knowledge of God as revealed in Christ is the knowledge that all who are saved must have. It is the knowledge that works transformation of character.” The Ministry of Healing, 425. How important is knowledge? Knowledge is tremendously important, because it is the grease on the wheel that transforms our character, as it were.

Ignorance is Not Bliss

If you do not know, you are not going to do. It is just as simple as that. There are people who have the philosophy that ignorance is bliss, but the time is coming when bliss is going to burn awfully hot. Ignorance is not bliss! Ignorance will lead you straight to hell fire, because you will have a character that will not be fit for heaven.

The knowledge of God received, will recreate the soul in the image of God. It will impart to the whole being a spiritual power that is divine. Does this sound something like what Peter wrote? It gets awfully close, does it not? That is what righteousness is; it is spiritual power that is divine. We need it; we desire it; we seek for it, and indeed, the promise is, we shall find it.

“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.” 2 Peter 1:4, 5.

This, dear people, is the ladder that God has called us to climb. It is a ladder where each rung, as we place our foot upon it, has transforming divine power to take the character that we possess and change it, modify it more and more and more, until we reflect the character of Christ in our lives.

May the Lord challenge us. May the Lord continue to bless us, as we climb that ladder.

To be continued . . .

The Consecrated Way, Part III

In this series, we have been studying The Consecrated Way, which is the sanctified way, as outlined in 2 Peter 1. It is found in climbing Peter’s ladder, working our way up round by round. Each time we take a step up, we find ourselves being called to a grander, nobler purpose in the plan of God.

Called to a Higher Calling

If those of us who are Christians had been climbing this ladder all along in our experience, long ago we would have reached a point when Jesus could have come, and we would be in glory. (See Evangelism, 695.) But we are still here, which tells me that there is still need for us to be exhorted, through the Scriptures, to the higher calling that God has given to us.

“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 . . . .” 11 Peter 1:4–6.

What is temperance? Normally when we think about this word, the first thing that comes to our mind is the counsel to stay free and clear of the consumption of alcohol and of tobacco. But the concept of temperance goes much farther than just these two things.

It covers the full gamut of lifestyle; it calls for us to exercise the choice of our will for right or for wrong. Looking at Vines’ New Testament Dictionary for the meaning of the word temperance, we find that it comes from a Greek root word that means strength, and that makes good sense. Those of us of the older generation, who have kind of reached the pinnacle and are going down the other side, know that we suffer from a loss of strength. We are not as strong as we used to be. My mind tells me that I am sixteen. My body tells me something entirely different. The problem is trying to reconcile those two things together to where we live a balanced life. God has the answer for a balanced life. It is found in the word temperance, meaning strength. How are you going to expend your strength?

Exercising Self-Control

The development of the word beyond the root meaning is that of self-control. In the conflict between the forces of good and evil, it is extremely necessary that we, possessing the sinful nature that we do, exercise self-control, by God’s grace. The various powers that God has given to us in the area of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual are capable of abuse.

The right use of these powers demands the controlling of the will under the operation of the Spirit of God. Temperance, when it is rightly exercised, allows the development of character to take place and allows us to become, through the precious promises that God has given, partakers of the divine nature.

Putting this all into the context of our text, we see that temperance follows knowledge. This suggests to us that what is learned, and temperance is learned, should be put into practice. The Bible is filled with narratives which portray both the positive and the negative aspect of being temperate.

We will look at two individual examples in Scripture—Samson on the one hand, Daniel on the other. Samson was a man for whom God had great plans. He was called to serve God at a time when the spiritual level of Israel was dragging in the dust. The Philistines had overrun their nation; they were sniping them from every corner, harassing, causing them problems in every way, and Israel was weak.

Of themselves, Israel had little temperance. They had little strength. They had no power to overcome the Philistines. God called a man to be the example of self-control and strength, but he became a total wreck of humanity. So that which God intended should achieve grand and noble purposes and prepare the way for the Messiah to come, never really came to fruition.

God, the Pediatrician

During this time of apostasy, when there was wide-spread, national declension, there were a faithful few who were pleading with God for deliverance from oppression. In the course of time, God responded to their needs with this great man of strength. The Lord very carefully instructed his parents on how they were to prepare themselves, as well as the child, in habits of temperance.

“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman [Samson’s mother], and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing.” Judges 13:3, 4.

This is the instruction that God gave to the parents in preparation for the child that would come. This woman was barren, and in Israel, that was a shame. I have discovered that every time God has a plan for something marvelous to take place in the way a child is going to come into being, He closes the womb so that there can be no question in the mind but that God has His hand in the matter and that the instruction given should be carefully followed.

He tells this woman, Prepare yourself; you are going to have a child. Leave the wine bottle alone, and stay away from barbecues. It is still good instruction today. The baby was born and grew up, and the mother instructed the child to follow the ways of the Lord. Unfortunately, as happens too much of the time, the child did not continue in the habits of temperance.

But I Want Her!

Instead, we find that he went down into the town called Timnath, and there he fell where he should not fall. “And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.” Judges 14:1, 2.

Where did it really start? When he went to Timnath? No. He fell when he failed to follow the counsel that his parents had received at the hand of God. “Now therefore get her for me to wife.” Ibid. I do not care what your counsel is; I want this woman! How much self-control is being displayed here? None!

There was no respecting his parents’ wishes. They took the instruction that was given, but they decided to take their own course. They did not want to offend this child, apparently their only child, a spoiled child, an indulged child, a child who, from an early age, had no self-control. “Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all thy people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” Verse 3.

Did Samson say, I really need to think this thing through; I do believe there is probably someone who would fit the bill? No! He had no temperance, no self-control, no strength. “And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.” Ibid.

Timnath was a city located in the territory of Dan, a tribe that lost out totally in the kingdom. Dan did not follow the instruction of the Lord, or they would be numbered among the faithful tribes. Timnath was inhabited by Philistines. What were the Israelites to do as far as the Philistines were concerned when, coming out of Egypt, out of the wilderness experience, they moved into the land of Canaan? They were to destroy them. (See Deuteronomy 4:37, 38; 7.) They were to move in and take total possession and dispossess the heathen. But they settled down instead, so when little Samson grew up, he found this Philistine girl. They began to eat and drink and make merry together and Samson’s self-control was no where to be found.

Led Into Total Darkness

Eventually a point was reached in which Samson lost every bit of his strength. His eyes were put out, and he was left in bondage to the enemy of God. Do you know why such a story as this is in the Bible? That story applies to us right now, and it tells us our end, if we have no greater self-control than did Samson. The devil led him down an alley where it was total darkness.

If you think that happened only in the days of Samson, you had better think again, because if you give the devil an opportunity, he is going to lead you down an alley into total darkness too. Your eyes will also be put out, in bondage to the enemy of God. The story goes that, while Samson was in darkness, he had time to reflect. He began to review his life, and he said, I need to make some changes; I need to repent of my sin. I need to confess to God.

He repented, and God restored his strength long enough for him to make an attack against the Philistines and to destroy the temple in the process. But it cost him his life. If you have ever had a hesitation about whether there is a God in heaven Who cares about you, Who is working on your behalf, then you need to read the story of Samson as found in Judges 13 and 14 and then read Hebrews 11.

Samson is listed in the victors’ hall of fame. A man who went into total darkness and yet, through repentance, confession, and restoration, was honored by God. He destroyed the temple, but the grand and noble future that the Lord had planned for him never happened, because he could not control himself. He failed to practice temperance.

God’s Health Laws

No doubt Samson lost his keen sense of right and of wrong when he first began to dabble with that which was forbidden to him. God made every provision, instructed his parents before his birth: “The angel’s prohibition included ‘every unclean thing.’ The distinction between articles of food as clean and unclean was not a merely ceremonial and arbitrary regulation.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 562.

Today, there are those who try to tell us that this health business is just arbitrary and ceremonial, but it has its authority in the Bible! It was “based upon sanitary principles. To the observance of this distinction may be traced, in a great degree, the marvelous vitality which for thousands of years has distinguished the Jewish people.” Ibid.

The Jews are still benefiting today from those health laws that God gave a long time ago. “The principles of temperance must be carried further than the mere use of spirituous liquors. The use of stimulating and indigestible food is often equally injurious to health, and in many cases sows the seeds of drunkenness. True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful. There are few who realize as they should how much their habits of diet have to do with their health, their character, their usefulness in this world, and their eternal destiny.” Ibid.

That is a powerful statement! The apostle Paul, speaking of these instances that took place in the Old Testament, stated, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

1 Corinthians 10:11. Do you believe that we are in the time of the end in the world? Then these things apply.

On the other side, those of you who realize how much your habits of diet have to do with health, character, and usefulness in this world, can be found applying the knowledge of the Scripture to bring about positive development.

Daniel’s Temperance

A Bible character, who exemplifies all the attributes of temperance in his life, is Daniel. Before we look at the chapter where we find this story, let us look at Daniel 12. Daniel, of course, is the only book that has been sealed, and it tells us so. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Verse 4.

On Peter’s ladder, add to knowledge temperance. “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Verse 9. The book of Daniel is not just a historical book about the life of Daniel. It is a book that has special meaning for us in these last days, particularly down near the end of time.

This book was to be sealed until the time of the end. Its meaning and its most profound application did not come into play until the time of the end, but when the time of the end arrived, the meaning exploded, literally around the world.

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it.” Daniel 1:1. Do you have the feeling that Israel constantly repeats history? There is a reason for it. “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god. And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” Verses 2–4.

Daniel Purposed

Already diligent habits had been brought to the surface by certain captive individuals who were gifted in many areas. They had health; they had character development, and they had usefulness in the world. And the king said, When you find these youth, bring them to me. Out of all of this class, at least four individuals came to the top.

Verse 6 says, “Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.” And we find that early in their experience in the court of Babylon they began to undergo a change: “Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.” Verse 7.

But new names were not all that the Babylonians wanted to impress upon these young men. They wanted to change them entirely, to give them not only new names, but also new food. Verse 5 says, “And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.”

I wonder what those who ate the provisions looked like at the end of three years. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Verses 8, 9.

Daniel purposed in his heart; he won the favor of the eunuchs’ supervisor, and he came out on top. “There are many among professed Christians today who would decide that Daniel was too particular, and would pronounce him narrow and bigoted. They consider the matter of eating and drinking of too little consequence to require such a decided stand,—one involving the probable sacrifice of every earthly advantage. But those who reason thus will find in the day of judgment that they turned from God’s express requirements, and set up their own opinion as a standard of right and wrong. They will find that what seemed to them unimportant was not so regarded of God.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 30.

A Peculiar People

“Our habits of eating and drinking show whether we are of the world or among the number whom the Lord by His mighty cleaver of truth has separated from the world. These are His peculiar people, zealous of good works. God has spoken in His word. In the case of Daniel and his three companions there are sermons upon health reform.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 372.

There are only two ways put forth in the Bible as far as life is concerned—there is the right way and there is the wrong way. The Bible knows no other way. It is either all right, or it is all wrong. There is no gray area in Christianity. We like to believe that there are gray areas. This is why we are where we are right now. We convince ourselves that it does not really matter.

The prince of the eunuchs tried to tell Daniel that there was a gray area. Daniel said, No, as far as I am concerned, there is no gray area. I have had people tell me, Well, you know, I am not a bad person; I do not do this, and I do not do that, naming sins that are obviously wrong. It may well be true that they do not do those things, but if they are not surrendered completely to the Lord Jesus Christ, they can be just as lost as is someone who does all the things they have not done.

If we are doing what we know is wrong, there is no neutral point. That is just where the devil wants us to be. He will keep moving us farther and farther away from the Lord, just like he did Samson. He did not take Samson down to Timnath when he was five years old. The seduction of Samson took a long period of time. Perhaps Samson climbed the hill and stood looking down at the city for a while, every day moving just a little bit closer to temptation, until he was in the city. And he found a woman who pleased him, and he said to his parents, Get her for me; she pleases me well.

Satan Plays to Win!

You do not just pick up and go home when you decide that the game is over. Not in the devil’s court. He does not play the game that way. He plays for keeps, and once you have come into his court and started to play his game, he immediately claims you as his own, and you do not just get up and go home. He has played with a lot of people like you before. When the game was over, he had them bound up so much in his way of fun that they wanted to go back for a repeat performance. Finally they lost their perspective as to where home really is, and they are just as happy in the devil’s house as they were in their own home.

“As the Lord co-operated with Daniel and his fellows, so He will co-operate with all who strive to do His will. And by the impartation of His Spirit He will strengthen every true purpose, every noble resolution. Those who walk in the path of obedience will encounter many hindrances. Strong, subtle influences may bind them to the world; but the Lord is able to render futile every agency that works for the defeat of His chosen ones; in His strength they may overcome every temptation, conquer every difficulty.” Prophets and Kings, 487.

There is no area so big that we cannot get a handle on it—if we allow the Lord to work.

There is a real key in the Scripture concerning the area of temperance in proper eating and drinking. It is found in Matthew 24:37, 38, where Jesus talks about what it is going to be like in the last days: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark.”

They were eating and drinking in apparent abandonment. Self-control was forgotten. We all need to eat and drink every day in order to maintain health, strength, life, and happiness, but self-control is the problem for many of us. That is the reason why the Lord mentions the days of Noah.

Character Development

Do we need to be reminded that God has a plan? He has given us, as Seventh-day Adventists, a health message. He has given us Scripture that rehearses for us the positive and the negative influences of our eating habits. The most important aspect of the health message is character development—having strength of mind to make right choices, so we have power in the brain to understand where God would have us be.

That is the reason for the health message. It is to produce healthy bodies, which have healthy minds, which are able to comprehend the truth for this hour of earth’s history. Otherwise the mind will be so clouded that truth will fly right by and never be realized.

One of the great thrusts the devil is making in the last throes of this earth is against our minds, and it comes through eating and drinking the wrong things. That is why God’s end-time prophet, Ellen White, wrote about the health message. We must read and study her books, so the message of temperance can be realized in our lives.

Enlightened Conscience

Drive down any street. Notice the billboards. They have very seductive, welcoming commercials of abandonment to fleshly appetites. Think of the television commercials. Probably 90 percent of the commercials make an appeal to the appetite.

Do you know why they do that? Because the advertising is successful. They get people to go out and buy the product that they are advertising, and it dumbs them down. The brain goes. The Spirit of Prophecy says that all of this prepares the way for drunkenness. I believe that means more than just the consumption of alcohol. (See The Ministry of Healing, 334; Testimonies, vol. 4, 578.)

Daniel took his stand for God, conscientious and righteous even in little matters of his food and drink, and this laid a ground work for developing a character which would pass untarnished and unscathed through 70 years of political life.

Daniel went through 70 years without one blemish or one tarnished spot in his career or in his personal life. Daniel’s decision was not a mere whim or strange notion of an extremist. His conscience was enlightened by the Word of God, which is the only safe guide for us to have.

Our minds are the only link that we have between ourselves and heaven. Do not think for a moment that the devil does not know that also. He is going to do everything that he can to ruin the plan of God. What we eat either builds the mind or tears it down. If it tears it down, it gives Satan free access, and we do not even realize it.

“I’m Okay—You’re Okay”

Satan comes in on the sly and begins to control, and all the while we are satisfied that we are all right and that everything is under control, never realizing that he is pulling the strings. Can we afford to allow such a thing to happen this late in life, this late in earth’s history? Are there areas in which we need to reform?

We can never use as an excuse that we did what we did because of what someone else did. We need to think for ourselves. We need to be moved by the spirit of God, not by what others think of us. This is what Daniel did. This is why he had such a noble record.

A Crisis is Coming

In these last days we are going to be faced with a crisis called the Mark of the Beast. Do you think it is possible that temperance can play a part in the issue of the Mark of the Beast? I would suggest that it will. Think about it for a minute. A crisis is coming. We have been warned about it. Eating and drinking the way that God has commanded is part of that preparation.

“And beside this . . . add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance . . . .” 2 Peter 1:5, 6.

To be continued . . .

The Consecrated Way, Part IV

We have been making our way through the passage of Scripture found in 2 Peter 1—Peter’s ladder. Centuries before, Jacob, when fleeing from Esau, laid his head on a rock, weary from the flight. There, in visions of the night, God gave Jacob a dream of a ladder that extended from the earth to heaven. The ladder was meaningful to Jacob. It assured him that God was with him; it encouraged him that there is indeed a ladder extending from earth to heaven. Peter picks up where this dream left off by presenting the idea that Jesus is coming again and that we need to get ready for that wonderful and great event by climbing the ladder. Sister White makes it very clear that each rung of that ladder is important to us in reaching the kingdom of heaven.

“The apostle Peter presents before us the ladder of progress that we must climb round by round in order to meet the approval of God. [2 Peter 1:5–7 quoted.] Those who would make men of honor, men of trust, men of fidelity, must begin to be faithful in the smallest matters, and they must begin at home. Everyone who would be perfect must mount this ladder of progress. Many have neglected to put their feet upon the first rounds of the ladder. They want to mount to the topmost rounds without the trouble of climbing, but the only sure way is to take the painstaking way of going up by gradual advance, round after round.” Signs of the Times, May 25, 1891.

“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 ….”
2 Peter 1:3–6.

The Climb Gets Harder

When we arrive at patience, we find that we are half way up the ladder in the goal that leads to Christian perfection of character. The climb does not seem to be getting any easier. As a matter of fact, it is getting somewhat more difficult. There are some folks who are afraid of heights. They do not like to climb very far for fear of falling.

The rung of this ladder, called patience, is one that speaks to every one of us—so elusive and yet so desirable. Webster defines patience: “The state, quality, power or fact of being patient.” It does not say a whole lot to us, does it? What is patience? Further research results in three meanings that come to bear on our climb:

  1. bearing pains or trials calmly without complaint,
  2. manifesting forbearance under provocation or strain, and
  3. being steadfast, despite opposition, difficulty or adversity.

I would like to suggest that each one of these meanings has an application to the Christian today, as he is looking for the soon return of the Lord Jesus in the clouds of glory. Revelation 14:12 serves as a hallmark for Seventh-day Adventists. After having outlined the events that will surround the last generation just before Jesus comes, the proclamation of the Three Angels’ Messages, John wrote, under inspiration, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”

Beautiful Harmony

It is marvelous to see the harmony of the words of inspiration. Peter must have known that patience was a necessary part of character development for the last generation. He gave direction through the Spirit of God that patience was a part of that development. Then, through the same Spirit while John sees the culmination of all the events of earth’s history, he writes, “Here is the patience of the saints.”

Someone once said that, “Patience is the guardian of faith, the preserver of peace, the cherished of love, the teacher of humility. Patience governs the flesh, strengthens the spirit, sweetens the temper, stifles anger, extinguishes envy, and subdues pride. Patience bridles the tongue, restrains the hand, tramples on temptations, endures persecutions, and consummates martyrdom. Patience produces unity in the church, loyalty in the state, harmony in families and societies. She comforts the poor and moderates the rich. She makes us humble in prosperity, cheerful in adversity, and is unmoved by reproach. She teaches us to forgive those who have injured us and to be first in asking forgiveness of those whom we have injured. She delights the faithful and invites the unbelieving. She adorns the woman and approves the man. Patience is beautiful in either sex and every age.” The Royal Path of Life, © 1997 Bud and Debbie Neptune, R. R. 1 Box 131a, Dawn MO 64638 <> (cited March 26, 2002).

It is a little better than Webster’s definition, is it not? This is what Peter is telling us that we need to add to temperance. I believe there is significance to the order in which these Christian graces were given. Add to temperance, patience. Did you know that we cannot have patience without temperance? What affects the body affects the mind.

Continuing the Climb

What we fail to provide for physically we cannot expect to reap spiritually. On the other hand, it is also apparent that we can climb on to the rung of temperance and not climb any higher. We might be exercising all sorts of temperance in our lives; we may be eating all the right kinds of foods; we may have never violated any of the rules of health; we may be exercising, getting proper sleep; our temperance may be impeccable, yet we may lose eternal life, because we have not climbed any higher in the development of our Christian character.

This is what happened to the Pharisees. They were perfectionists in all their physical aspects—those things that could be seen, felt, and heard—but they were lost because they did not develop spiritually. They did not climb, as they should have. We have many Christians today who are classed in the same group as were the Pharisees. They are doing everything right as far as temperance and health reform is concerned, but they have not continued to climb higher.

Peter says that God’s plan for us is to climb that ladder, round by round, ultimately stepping off into the Promised Land. I hope that you have not stopped in your climb.

Bearing Pains or Trials

Have you added to your temperance, patience—the ability to bear pains or trials calmly without complaint? If things do not go just the way you want them to go, do you lose your patience? It is quite a trial. When you are crossed, do you fly off the handle? Do you lose control of yourself and perhaps rant or rave just a little bit? What would a non-Christian think if he were to come upon you then? What is the angel writing down? Sometimes our lack of patience causes us to say things that will condemn us in the judgment, because every word is recorded.

Have you been able to manifest forbearance under provocation or strain? I remember a neighbor of ours who, when I was just a boy, had an old Packard car. The old Packard engines were straight eights, and they had a long hood on them. It was in the wintertime, and he had run the battery down trying to get the car started, so he tried starting the engine by using a crank. He cranked and cranked, but it still did not start. So, in his lack of patience, he pulled the crank out of its place and began to beat it across the hood, the fenders, and the headlights. When that did not produce the amount of satisfaction he wanted, he shattered the windshield with the crank. But that did not start the car either.

He was not a Christian, but surprisingly there are Christians who display similar behavior. Patience. Oh, golden patience. Have you been able to be steadfast despite opposition, difficulty or adversity? If you have not developed patience, what do you suppose it is going to be like when you find yourself in the throes of the events that are going to transpire just before Jesus comes?

Steadfast Despite Adversity?

I do not know whether you sense it or not, but it seems to me, at least in these last few years, that the intensity of everything is growing. How are we going to fare? Are we going to be steadfast despite opposition and difficulty or adversity? As we have heard, we have not yet seen anything compared to what is coming. Do you have the patience of the saints that will see you through those times?

The apostle Peter is not the only one who understands the need for patience as a Christian virtue. Paul, writing to the Romans, tells them something similar. “Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Romans 12:9–12.

As a matter of fact, Paul mentions patience in his writings more than all the other Bible writers put together. “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Hebrews 10:36, 37.

Paul tells us here that the kingdom of God comes with patience. We cannot rush ahead of God; we need to have patience. We might consider ourselves ready, but while He is working for the salvation of others, we need to have patience. If we are not ready to meet the Lord with peace in our hearts, we need to commit ourselves to Christ today.

Not the Only One

You are not the only one with whom Jesus is working. You are not the only one with whom the Holy Spirit is striving to bring to a knowledge of salvation. While we may be ready, there are others who are not, and it calls upon us for patience to wait for God’s timing.

Patience calls for us to wait upon the Lord to do His will. Deliverance will come; Paul says it will come with patience. In the meantime, there are things in our lives on which we need to work.

Moses Makes a Mess of Things

The Bible tells of a man who thought that he knew more than he did about the situation in which he found himself, and he did not exercise patience when he should have. It did not prove to be very healthful for some people. The children of Israel went into Egypt to keep from starving to death during a famine. Joseph made provision for them under the guidance of God, but finally Joseph died, and they were still in Egypt.

“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” Exodus 1:8–12.

God’s plan did not provide for them to remain in bondage. So a deliverer was born—born with a destiny to free God’s children from their bondage. “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian . . . .” Exodus 2:11–15.

Moses, because of a lack of patience, made a mess of the whole plan of God. We should each ask ourselves: Am I working in the plan of God, or am I working in a frustrating, impatient way against the plan of God? Moses had every advantage, but the thing that he lacked was patience.

There is no question in my mind that Moses knew that God had something special in mind for him to help his people. There was too much connected with his life, too many providential leadings, for him not to know. But Moses was not a man who was a patient man. According to Acts 7:22, “Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.” Interestingly, all that wisdom, all that might in words and in deeds, all that he could do was not enough to undo what he had done through lack of patience.

Angel Ministry

“The elders of Israel were taught by angels that the time for their deliverance was near, and that Moses was the man whom God would employ to accomplish this work. Angels instructed Moses also that Jehovah had chosen him to break the bondage of His people. . . . In slaying the Egyptian, Moses had fallen into the same error so often committed by his fathers, of taking into their own hands the work that God had promised to do. It was not God’s will to deliver His people by warfare, as Moses thought . . . .” Patriarchs and Prophets, 245, 247.

Are there times when you think that God has a plan of which you are to be a part, and you are determined to do it your way? Your way may have been the way you were taught and trained and the way that you have always done it, so you think that is the way it always has to be. You might be surprised. Moses was. Moses was trained; he had all the skill and wisdom of the Egyptians. He thought he would do things his way! Lo and behold, it was not God’s way at all. Why? Because God was patient; Moses was not.


“It was not God’s will to deliver His people by warfare, as Moses thought, but by His own mighty power, that the glory might be ascribed to Him alone. Yet, even this rash act was overruled by God to accomplish His purposes. Moses was not prepared for his great work. He had yet to learn the same lesson of faith that Abraham and Jacob had been taught—not to rely upon human strength or wisdom, but upon the power of God for the fulfillment of His promises. And there were other lessons that, amid the solitude of the mountains, Moses was to receive. In the school of self-denial and hardship he was to learn patience, to temper his passions.” Ibid., 247.

Moses, at 45, was a young man in his prime. He was in the first one-third of his life. It took him almost the same amount of time, another 40 years, to unlearn what he had learned in the courts of Pharaoh.

What have you learned in the first one-third of your life? Have you been adding those virtuous graces to your character, or will you need to unlearn what you learned before? Do you wonder why things are going so slow, why things are not progressing as rapidly as they should?

Sometimes it is much more difficult to use a used ball of string than a ball of string that is new, because a used ball of string can snarl easier. If you have ever tried to unsnarl a ball of string, you know what it is like. That is your life. That is what God is trying to work through now. For Moses, who had all the skills, all the background, all the wonders of education and experience, God had to take his life and unsnarl it. God said, “Now, I will give you some sheep to herd; let that unsnarl your mind.”

Learning Patience

If there is anything that can teach a person how to be patient, it is herding sheep. Reflect back upon what God did with David and Moses and other sheepherders. What a marvelous lesson in the school of self-denial and hardship—you will learn patience, control of your temper.

During the next 40 years Moses learned patience. He learned meekness, and finally, when he had gone through a transition and change, God called him back to deliver Israel. Exodus tells the story: “And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” Exodus 4:10.

Moses did the job that the Lord had called him to do, and he was able to do the job because he had learned patience. How many of us have felt a calling to do a job for the Lord, but we find that many times we have run ahead of the Lord, that the timing just was not quite right? Do we stand back and learn the lesson that we failed to learn, to do it in God’s time? Or do we just shove ahead? This is a question we need to ask ourselves. Moses stood back and learned God’s lessons.

Is God calling you to do a great work? How is your patience with your wife? How is your patience with your husband? How is your patience with your children? Do you say mean and passionate words to them? Are you in the Lord’s will? Are you in a position that will provide avenues for the Lord to use you?

If not, the Lord may have to deal with you in a way that may not at all be pleasant. The Bible says that the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (See 2 Peter 3:9.) If you are impatient, there is no way that the Lord can take you to heaven. God forbid that we should ever reach a point, like the children of Israel of old, who, seeing they see not; hearing they hear not. (See Matthew 13:13.)

A Last Day People

The word patience is used more in the book of Revelation than in any other book of the Bible. Paul used it more, totally, but as far as books are concerned, it is used the most in the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation is the book of last things, the special book that has been given to guide God’s people through the last days.

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. I get the distinct impression that unless we are able to have patience—patience that is developed through association with family, church members, jobs, business associates, the trials that come day by day—we are not keeping the commandments of God nor are we able to have the faith of Jesus.

That becomes pretty serious, does it not? The question that we need to ask ourselves then, is this: Can we afford to give vent to our impatience and to forfeit our growth in this area and lose out in the end because we have not been able to climb any higher in the ladder of character development?

God has made every provision for us to go higher. We will never be able to stand before the Lord and say, “Well, you know, it was not possible, Lord, for me to obtain patience.” Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. “I overcame impatience,” He says, “and you can, too.”

He was tempted in all points just like we are tempted, yet without sin. (See Hebrews 4:15.) He had no advantage over us—we are starting at the same place Jesus started, but He has walked the road before us, and He says, I am by your side, My grace is sufficient, you can add to your temperance, patience.

The Consecrated Way, Part V – Godliness

Things are happening right now that Seventh-day Adventists have pondered and thought about for decades. Now the wheels are turning at a rapid pace, bringing those things into fruition that, before, we could only see in seed form.

When God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, He had great expectations for them, but a fracturing took place because of sin. The character development of that noble creature whom God had created was changed from that point forward. I believe that it was God’s purpose that the plan of salvation occur in a shorter period of time. God never wanted pain and suffering and sorrow to go on the way that it has over these long centuries.

The words of Jeremiah ring true, nonetheless, when he says that the human heart is desperately wicked and who can know it. (See Jeremiah 17:9.) God made grace available in such abundance that if man would have responded to the call of God, this whole thing could have been shortened.

Blindness Covers the Land

There is a blindness that has taken over the whole world. It is not a physical blindness; it is a psychological blindness. We do not want to see what truth is all about. As a result, we turn to fables. This is exactly what has brought us to the point where we are today. The extreme blindness that the devil has perpetrated upon human beings causes them to do such heinous acts as happened at the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001.

Where does that leave us? How do we fit into the whole scheme of what is transpiring? We can become aroused to the physical state of things that have been transpiring—we can become aroused spiritually. These occurrences are not necessarily designed by God to create within us a patriotic fervor, although that is not to be condemned.

Jesus Calls Us

More than anything else, God wants to redeem man—bringing him out of the carnage that he himself has created. God has a plan for that.

We realize that there is not going to be a golden millenium on this earth, but at the same time we long for the kingdom of heaven. In reading the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, a message keeps coming through over and over again. That message is God saying to us, I want you to respond to the offers that I have made to help you.

In Christ’s Object Lessons is the message of the restoration of character that was fractured because of sin: “God requires perfection of His children. His law is a transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character. This infinite standard is presented to all that there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people whom God will have to compose His kingdom. The life of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God’s law, and when those who claim to be children of God become Christlike in character, they will be obedient to God’s commandments. Then the Lord can trust them to be of the number who shall compose the family of heaven. Clothed in the glorious apparel of Christ’s righteousness, they have a place at the King’s feast. They have a right to join the blood-washed throng.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 315. [Emphasis supplied.]

God cannot take us to heaven while we have an unrestored, fractured character. This is the reason why God, through the Holy Spirit, inspired the apostle Peter to pen the words that we have been studying now for several months—the ladder, or restoration of the fractured character.

We all realize that the time of the end is upon us. So what is the crucial message that needs to be shared for this hour that will help us the most?

“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.” 11 Peter 1:3–6.

How is Your Foundation?

If the terrorists had been climbing this ladder, we never would have experienced what happened on September 11. Godliness leads us to god-likeness. Up to this point we have discovered that Peter has been laying the groundwork for Christian character development.

In the construction of a home there is need for laying a proper foundation—concrete, block, bricks—so that the home can rest on something that is solid and firm. We do not pay too much attention to the foundation once it is laid. We give more attention to the building itself. When you drive down any street in a city, you begin to look at the countryside, at the buildings that are there. You do not look to see the foundation; you notice the building itself. The foundation is very important, but once it has been laid, it is finished. There is no need to consider it again, until it becomes apparent that the foundation is becoming weak or is starting to disintegrate entirely. Then attention needs to be given it again. This is the point we have reached on this rung of the ladder.

Godliness, is part of the structure that is visible in the life. Godliness is not the foundation. Godliness is built on the items that have gone before.

The word used by Peter comes from the combination of two Greek words, eu which means well, and sebomai which means to revere or worship. Putting these two words together we end up with a definition that means piety, which is characterized by a godward attitude, doing that which is well pleasing to God.

Ellen White talks a lot about piety—the right kind of piety and a false kind of piety. The piety to which Peter refers is characterized by a godward attitude, which is well pleasing to God. There are two types of godliness spoken of in the Bible. One is called a form of godliness and the other is true godliness.

Heart Rescue

True godliness and false godliness are at direct odds with one another. This theme is outlined in The Great Controversy—Satan, who is the counterfeit of godliness, having only a form, which he uses to snare unsuspecting souls, and Christ, who is the very essence of godliness, which leads to eternal life.

The apostle Paul talks about this, and in this context he is talking about the inward workings of the heart. We are looking at heart rescue. “This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” 11 Timothy 3:1–4.

Having a Form of Godliness

Paul goes on to outline the prevailing sins of the time and finally says that all of this can be done in a setting where there is “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Verse 5. Along with all those who are in obvious disobedience to the things of God, Paul says, there will be those who appear to be god-like from the outside, yet who are involved in wrong things. It is outward godliness only. They have a form of godliness, but they will not have the power.

In other words, they believe in Jesus Christ, as a person. They believe that He is the Saviour; they believe that He is God in the flesh, but they will deny the power, which means that they will not be obedient, because power gives obedience. You can believe all you want to believe and still be lost because there is no power. Power is that which gives strength for obedience. What happens as a result of having a form of godliness but no power? You become a hypocrite.

A hypocrite is a person who recognizes the claims of God on his life, but accepts them only on pretense. They know better and could have victory if they would appeal to Christ for help, but they want to keep their pet sins and still have the benefits of church fellowship.

Paul says to Timothy, “Do not have anything to do with these folk who are of a hypocritical nature, turn away from them.” Those are hard words, are they not? Where do you suppose we would be in our whole setting of Christianity if even just that counsel had been followed?

There are likely many who would become offended and walk away, but the church would be stronger because of it. The Christian walk is not an easy walk. Jesus warned that it is a narrow way. (See Matthew 7:14.) It is uphill; it is rugged, and it is a struggle all the way. But when you reach the top of the mountain, you can look over into the Promised Land and swing across on the cord of faith. (See Testimonies, vol. 2, 594–597.)

Pet Sins

The person who has only a form of godliness is often consciously and deliberately a hypocrite. He maps out the road to heaven; he knows it well. He has studied the signposts, and he knows the course of the highway. He can talk about the promises, but he has his little pet sins snuggly tucked in a corner of his heart, and he is not willing to part with them. A form of godliness but no power.

Even individuals in leadership positions may have pet sins they are trying to overcome. I heard a preacher say one time, from a Seventh-day Adventist pulpit, that he had his cherished sins written in the front leaf of his Bible in a foreign language shorthand, so if someone picked up his Bible and looked through it, nobody but himself would probably be able to read them.

If we have a cherished pet sin, there is a way to get rid of that sin. We need to confess it, ask the Lord to take it away from us—not only the sin but also the taste and the desire for it. If we are operating by faith, the Lord has promised to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Timothy must have had a special problem with people who were professing but not living the example, because Paul wrote to him twice about such problems. He says, “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” 1 Timothy 6:1–5.

What Are We Doing Here?

We, as Seventh-day Adventists, have probably not followed that counsel as closely as we should. Sometimes we have been involved in disputings and evil surmisings and doting about questions and strife of words, railings and what have you, calling it godliness. That is not godliness according to the Bible. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Verses 6–10.

The Lord knows that we have need of material things in order to maintain life, but it is when we lose sight of the reason we are here that the problem develops. Abraham, who was the father of the faithful, was a very rich person, but everything was held in its proper perspective. All too many are constantly reaching for more material things but are never satisfied and, of course, that is where the problem lies.

This was the problem with Judas. Judas had a form of godliness but no power. Mrs. White says, “Judas professed to be a disciple of Christ, but he possessed only a form of godliness. He was not insensible to the beauty of the character of Christ; and often, as he listened to the Saviour’s words, conviction came to him, but he would not humble his heart or confess his sins.” Acts of the Apostles, 557, 558.

If Judas had a Bible, he could have had his sins written in the front cover, maybe in Arabic shorthand so nobody else would be able to read them. “By resisting the divine influence he dishonored the Master whom he professed to love. . . . The practice of the truths that Christ taught was at variance with his desires and purposes, and he could not bring himself to yield his ideas in order to receive wisdom from heaven. Instead of walking in the light, he chose to walk in darkness. Evil desires, covetousness, revengeful passions, dark and sullen thoughts, were cherished until Satan gained full control of him.” Ibid.

Wanting the Best of Both Worlds

Judas was blessed with opportunity. He walked and talked with Jesus face to face. He saw Jesus perform miracles, yet he had only a form of godliness, a form that had no power to prevent Satan from gaining control. All the while Judas was in the presence of power, he coveted the riches of this world, thinking that it would gain him godliness. Just a form, wearing a mask—being a hypocrite—believing one thing and consciously doing something else and believing that the two were compatible.

It is sad to say that there are many people today who are living just like Judas. They want the best of both worlds. They know just enough about Christ to come to church week by week, but never enough for them to have the corresponding works that give evidence and testimony that there is power in their lives. They are ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth that will change them completely.

Many Christians, even Seventh-day Adventist Christians, think that if they hear the latest message, the up-to-date events, somehow that will change their character and they will be saved in the kingdom of heaven. But they do not climb the ladder that is necessary for them to climb.

Ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. We have that somewhat as our history, as the legacy of Seventh-day Adventists, because we have capitalized on last day events to the neglect of character development. Is it wrong to know about last day events? Not at all, but we also need to know what God requires of us in terms of character development.

Stripping Away the Mask

All those things that are contrary to the character development that God has outlined for us in His word need to be eliminated from our lives. Those things that are to be cut away we are responsible for choosing to cut away. We cannot serve two masters. We learn to love one and hate the other. (See Matthew 6:24.) This was spoken by Jesus 2,000 years ago, tested by tens of thousands over the years, proven to be true, and yet the nature of the human heart prompts each generation to question, to try, to test, causing multitudes to lose their souls just like Judas did.

We need to ask ourselves when are we ever going to learn to let God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, strip away the mask of hypocrisy and clean up our act so that the testimony of God can be seen in the lives of His disciples? That is what God is waiting for. He does not want lip service; He wants the real thing.

Judas’ form of godliness is contrasted with true godliness as expressed in the life of the apostle John. Both were disciples of Jesus. Both started out from the same city. John was called one of the Sons of Thunder. Judas and John both had problems. We all have problems. The question is how are we going to deal with our problems? Are we going to become like Judas and have dark and sullen thoughts relative to the problem, or are we going to allow the very presence and power of God to help us to overcome those problems? Judas and John, a Son of Thunder, oh, what different roads they took.

“In the life of the disciple John true sanctification is exemplified. During the years of his close association with Christ, he was often warned and cautioned by the Saviour; and these reproofs he accepted.” The Acts of the Apostles, 557. What about Judas? When warnings and reproofs would come, he would get dark and sullen. That was the problem.

Yielded to His Will for Us

John was just the opposite. He was grateful to the Lord. “As the character of the Divine One was manifested to him, John saw his own deficiencies, and was humbled by the revelation. Day by day, in contrast with his own violent spirit, he beheld the tenderness and forbearance of Jesus, and heard His lessons of humility and patience. Day by day his heart was drawn out to Christ, until he lost sight of self in love for his Master. The power and tenderness, the majesty and meekness, the strength and patience, that he saw in the daily life of the Son of God, filled his soul with admiration.” Ibid.

Have you noticed some of the same character traits that we have been studying in the ladder are coming up in the Spirit of Prophecy as Mrs. White outlines these things over and over again? “He yielded his resentful, ambitious temper to the molding power of Christ, and divine love wrought in him a transformation of character.” Ibid. She goes on to say that John and Judas are representatives of those who profess to be followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Both these disciples had the same opportunities to study and follow the divine Pattern. Both were closely associated with Jesus and were privileged to listen to His teaching.” Ibid., 558. Both of them had serious character defects, but they also both had access to the same divine grace that could transform their characters to become like His. While John was learning, in humility, about Jesus, Judas was a hearer only, not a doer of the word. He had a form of godliness, but no power. John was daily dying to self, overcoming sin, being sanctified by the truth, developing true godliness and Judas was “resisting the transforming power of grace and indulging [in] selfish desires.” Ibid. Eventually he was brought into bondage, totally and completely, to the devil.

Lord, Is It I?

At the last supper Jesus sat with His 12 disciples, and the pronouncement was made: “One of you is going to betray me.” They all turned around and began to look at one another and ask the question, “Is it I?” Do you know something? John even asked a question—He questioned, “Lord, who is it?” (See John 13:21–25; Matthew 26:20–25.) John had come to a point in his experience with the Lord Jesus Christ that he knew what his relationship was to Jesus. The others apparently did not. If there is anything that true godliness teaches, it is that we can only realize true contentment as we reach out to our Lord and let Him be to us all that is necessary for our life on this earth. We need to have the faith with which He will provide us. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us [whom Jesus called Sons of Thunder, sons of violence], that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1–3.

This is the last testimony from a man who started out as a Son of Thunder, who had undergone a transformation and who now understands that he has become a son of God. I do not know of anything that could inspire someone to greater fidelity than to have the consciousness of who you are become aware to you, to realize and to understand to the fullest extent what you have become, a child of God.

This is the appeal of Scripture. Over and over again it appeals to the hearts of men. Although John never mentions the word godliness in his writings, he certainly understood the principle that produces it—beholding. As Paul puts it, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2.

—To be continued. . .

The Consecrated Way, Part VI – Brotherly Kindness

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

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

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

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

Self or Others

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

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

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

Split Congregation

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Continue to Climb

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

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

On Which Rung Are We?

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

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

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

Attitude of Jesus

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

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

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

Essential Rung

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

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

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

A New Commandment

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

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

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

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

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

Walk in Darkness

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

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

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

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

Let It Begin With Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be concluded . . .

Bible Study Guides – Godliness

August 3, 2008 – August 9, 2008

Key Text

“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.” II Peter 1:5, 6.

Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 272–283.


“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.” The Acts of the Apostles, 530.

1 Against what class of professed believers are we warned? II Timothy 3:1–5.

Note: “Since the second angel proclaimed the fall of the churches, they have been growing more and more corrupt. They bear the name of being Christ’s followers; yet it is impossible to distinguish them from the world. Ministers take their texts from the Word of God, but preach smooth things. To this the natural heart feels no objection. It is only the spirit and power of the truth and the salvation of Christ that are hateful to the carnal heart. There is nothing in the popular ministry that stirs the wrath of Satan, makes the sinner tremble, or applies to the heart and conscience the fearful realities of a judgment soon to come. Wicked men are generally pleased with a form of piety without true godliness, and they will aid and support such a religion.” Early Writings, 273.

2 Why are false believers worse than unbelievers? Revelation 3:15, 16.

Note: “Halfhearted Christians are worse than infidels; for their deceptive words and noncommittal position lead many astray. The infidel shows his colors. The lukewarm Christian deceives both parties. He is neither a good worldling nor a good Christian.” Our High Calling, 348.

3 What is the ideal Christian life? Romans 12:9–14.

Note: “We are to compare our characters with the infallible standard of God’s law. In order to do this, we must search the Scriptures, measuring our attainments by the word of God. Through the grace of Christ, the highest attainments in character are possible; for every soul who comes under the molding influence of the Spirit of God, may be transformed in mind and heart. In order to understand your condition, it is necessary to study the Bible, and to watch unto prayer. The apostle says, ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.’ II Corinthians 13:5. Let not those who are ignorant remain in ignorance. They cannot remain in ignorance, and meet the mind of God. They are to look to the cross of Calvary, and estimate the soul by the value of the offering there made. Jesus says to all believers, ‘Ye are my witnesses.’ [Isaiah 43:10.] ‘Ye are laborers together with God.’ This being true, how earnestly should each one strive to make use of every power to improve every opportunity for becoming efficient that he may be ‘not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.’ ” [Romans 12:11.] Fundamentals of Christian Education, 214.

4 What example do we have from the early Christians? Acts 2:42–47.

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

“The believers were ever to cherish the love that filled the hearts of the apostles after the descent of the Holy Spirit. They were to go forward in willing obedience to the new commandment: ‘As I have loved you, that ye also love one another’ [John 13:34.] So closely were they to be united to Christ that they would be enabled to fulfill His requirements. The power of a Saviour who could justify them by His righteousness was to be magnified.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 241.

5 Since we are living in the Laodicean era, in what situation may we find ourselves—and what hope does Christ offer? Revelation 3:18–20.

Note: “Love of self excludes the love of Christ. Those who live for self are ranged under the head of the Laodicean church who are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. The ardor of the first love has lapsed into a selfish egotism. …

“Let us thank the Lord that while this class is so numerous, there is still time for repentance.” Our High Calling, 348.

6 What is God’s ideal for each one of us? Ephesians 6:10.

Note: “God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. The living God has given in His holy law a transcript of His character. The greatest Teacher the world has ever known is Jesus Christ; and what is the standard He has given for all who believe in Him? ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ Matthew 5:48. As God is perfect in His high sphere of action, so man may be perfect in his human sphere.

“The ideal of Christian character is Christlikeness.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 365.

7 How can this ideal be accomplished? Matthew 7:13, 14; John 15:4, 5.

Note: “Without the divine working, man can do no good thing. God calls every man to repentance, yet man cannot even repent unless the Holy Spirit works upon his heart. But the Lord wants no man to wait until he thinks he has repented before he takes steps toward Jesus. The Saviour is continually drawing men to repentance; they need only to submit to be drawn, and their hearts will be melted in penitence.

“To man is allotted a part in this great struggle for everlasting life—he must respond to the working of the Holy Spirit. It will require a struggle to break through the powers of darkness, and the Spirit works in him to accomplish this. But man is no passive being, to be saved in indolence. He is called upon to strain every muscle and exercise every faculty in the struggle for immortality, yet it is God that supplies the efficiency. No human being can be saved in indolence.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 365, 366.

8 How can we be overcomers in our spiritual struggle? Ephesians 6:11–13.

Note: “In the Word of God are represented two contending parties that influence and control human agencies in our world. Constantly these parties are working with every human being. Those who are under God’s control and who are influenced by the heavenly angels, will be able to discern the crafty workings of the unseen powers of darkness. Those who desire to be in harmony with the heavenly agencies should be intensely in earnest to do God’s will. They must give no place whatever to Satan and his angels.

“But unless we are constantly on guard, we shall be overcome by the enemy. Although a solemn revelation of God’s will concerning us has been revealed to all, yet a knowledge of His will does not set aside the necessity of offering earnest supplications to Him for help, and of diligently seeking to cooperate with Him in answering the prayers offered. He accomplishes His purposes through human instrumentalities.

“God wants every one to stand with the whole armor on, ready for the great review.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1119.

9 What is the meaning of the “breastplate of righteousness”? Ephesians 6:14.

Note: “We must put on every piece of the armor, and then stand firm. The Lord has honored us by choosing us as his soldiers. Let us fight bravely for him, maintaining the right in every transaction. Rectitude in all things is essential to the welfare of the soul. As you strive for the victory over your own inclinations, he will help you by his Holy Spirit to be circumspect in every action, that you may give no occasion for the enemy to speak evil of the truth. Put on as your breastplate that divinely protected righteousness which it is the privilege of all to wear. This will protect your spiritual life.” Youth’s Instructor, September 12, 1901.

10 What are the other parts of our armor? Ephesians 6:15, 16.

Note: “ ‘Your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace’ [Ephesians 6:15], you will be prepared to walk from house to house, carrying the truth to the people. Sometimes you will find it very trying to do work of this kind; but if you go forth in faith, the Lord will go before you, and his light will shine upon your pathway. As you enter the homes of your neighbors to sell or to give away our literature, and in humility to teach them the truth, you will be accompanied by the light of heaven. Learn to sing the simplest of songs. These will help you in house-to-house labor, and hearts will be touched by the influence of the Holy Spirit.” Review and Herald, November 11, 1902.

11 Mention two essential weapons with which Christians should continually be armed. Ephesians 6:18.

Note: “Men and women may reach a high standard, if they will but acknowledge Christ as their personal Saviour. Watch and pray, making a surrender of all to God. The knowledge that you are striving for eternal life will strengthen and comfort you both. In thought, in word, in action, you are to be lights in the world. Discipline yourselves in the Lord; for He has committed to you sacred trusts, which you cannot properly fulfill without this discipline. By believing in Jesus, you are not only to save your own souls, but by precept and example you are to seek to save other souls.” The Adventist Home, 96.

Additional Reading

“The simplicity of true godliness must be brought into the education of our young people, if they are to have divine knowledge to escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Those who are truly the followers of Christ, will not serve God only when it is in accordance with their inclination, but, as well, when it involves self-denial and cross-bearing. The earnest counsel given by the apostle Paul to Timothy, that he might not fail in doing his duty, should be set before the youth of today: ‘Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.’ [I Timothy 4:12.] Besetting sins must be battled with, and overcome. Objectionable traits of character, whether hereditary or cultivated, should be taken up separately, and compared with the great rule of righteousness; and in the light reflected from the word of God, they should be firmly resisted and overcome, through the strength of Christ. ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ [Hebrews 12:14.]” Christian Education, 113.

“The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful men can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity. Then the ceremonies required in the service of God are not meaningless rites, like those of the hypocritical Pharisees.” The Desire of Ages, 310.

“The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church. True godliness will be clearly distinguished from the appearance and tinsel of it. Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 81.

“The knowledge of God is obtained from His word. The experimental knowledge of true godliness, found in daily consecration and service, ensures the highest culture of body, mind, and soul. This consecration of all our powers to God prevents self-exaltation. The impartation of divine power honors our sincere striving after wisdom that will enable us to use our highest faculties in a way that will honor God and bless our fellow men. As these faculties are derived from God, and not self-created, they should be appreciated as talents from God to be employed in His service.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 63.

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

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 III : Lessons from the First Chapter of Second 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 [notice this expression; we shall refer to it again] unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things [nothing is withheld] that pertain unto life [eternal 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”—mark carefully the language, because in the judgment every person who has ever had the privilege of hearing or reading these words will be held accountable for the way in which he has received them—“whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature”—partakers of divine power, divine grace, divine possibilities.

Is it possible for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam to stand on vantage ground, able to overcome? Yes, this is the great privilege that is granted them. They may be “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (11 Peter 1:1–4).

Constant Warfare

The Christian life is a constant warfare. The church militant is not the church triumphant. Paul says, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12.] We must meet human beings of power and influence who are on Satan’s side of the controversy; and we must also meet unseen agencies of evil. Let us be found in the right position.

Addition and Multiplication

To those who are preparing for heaven I wish to say, In the Christian life we are to work upon the plan of addition. If we are faithful in working on this plan, God works for us on the plan of multiplication. We are not to deviate from virtue or fail to cherish and cultivate all the graces of the Spirit. To enable us to be partakers of the divine nature, God has given us exceeding great and precious promises. These promises are mentioned in the following verses:

“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 1:5–8).

Add Virtue

“Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.” Let not those who profess to have faith in Christ fail of having virtue. They are under obligation to place themselves where they will reveal to others the virtue of His character.

High Standard to Attain

God has called us to glory and virtue. We have no right to assimilate with the world—dressing, talking, and living as worldlings do. God has given us a high standard to reach. To enable man to reach this standard, God sent into the world His only begotten Son. In our behalf Christ made an infinite sacrifice. He laid aside His kingly crown and royal robe, clothed His divinity with humanity, and came into our world to teach men and women the laws of life and salvation, which they must carry out to the letter in order to have everlasting life in the kingdom of glory.

Satan claimed that it was impossible for human beings to keep God’s law. In order to prove the falsity of this claim, Christ left His high command, took upon Himself the nature of man, and came to the earth to stand at the head of the fallen race, in order to show that humanity could withstand the temptations of Satan. On this earth He worked out the problem how to live in accordance with God’s standard of right. Bearing our nature, He was true to God’s standard of righteousness, gaining the victory over Satan. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet He was without sin.

Represent the Father

Before Christ came in person to reveal His Father’s character, Satan thought that he would have the whole world on his side. And today the enemy is still playing the game of life with everyone. He seeks to bring in dissension and division. But if we are partakers of the divine nature, we must stand as a united whole. Let us not think that our churches can enjoy God’s blessing while in a state of disunion. In this world we are to be representatives of Christ. He has called us to glory and virtue. As He represented the Father, so we are to represent Christ to the world; for in representing Him we are representing the Father.

We have a great work to perform for the Master. After Jesus has sacrificed so much in our behalf, giving His life for our salvation, shall we by our course of action make Him ashamed of us?

It is to the glory of God for Him to give us of His virtue. He desires to see us rise to the highest standard. When by living faith we lay hold of the power of a living Christ; when we plead His unfailing promises, and claim them as ours; when we seek for the power of the Holy Spirit, we are eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. And “whosoever eateth my flesh,” said Christ, “and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. . . . The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” [John 6:56, 63.]

Knowledge Beyond Expression

“And to virtue knowledge.” Oh, we can have a knowledge of God and His truth—a knowledge that is beyond expression! Tell me, what language can we find to express the knowledge that comes to us when Christ reveals His presence to us, and our hearts are softened and subdued by His power? Such knowledge is beyond expression. We cannot explain it; nevertheless, we know that we possess it.

Let those who claim to have a knowledge of God work in cooperation with Christ. Christ is depending upon everyone to do his best. To every man and to every woman He has given a work.

Conditional Promises

God’s promises are conditional. In order to make it possible for Him to bless us, we must do our part. We cannot expect that all His blessings will come to us naturally, if we fold our hands in inactivity. We are to be laborers together with God. It is our privilege and duty to labor for souls ready to perish.

If you have a knowledge of God and have taken your position under the banner of Prince Emmanuel, remember that you are not to allow yourself to come under the control of the powers of darkness—the fallen angels. You are to keep in mind the promises that pertain to eternal life and godliness, and seek for divine power that is given to enable you to escape everything that would lead you astray.

Temperance in Appetite

“And to knowledge temperance.” This is a point that every one of us should consider. The strength of natural appetites depends very much on the treatment they receive. Those who indulge appetite, eating and drinking with the drunken; those who practice gluttony, eating double the amount that they should eat, bring the system into such a condition that it is next to impossible for them to be partakers of the divine nature, because they do not escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. The temple of God, which should be kept holy, is polluted and defiled.

Think of all the wickedness that is committed as the result of the sale of liquor! The men who sell liquor are familiar with the evil effects that it produces. Not only the man who sells liquor, but also the man who buys and drinks it, is held accountable for the wicked deeds committed under its influence. God stands ready to give divine power to any sincere man to enable him to overcome appetite for liquor; but oh, how much better it is for parents to teach their children from babyhood never to use a drop of intoxicating liquor! And parents, besides helping their children by setting an example of strict temperance, should shield them from the so-called friends who would lead them to indulge appetite.

The food that we eat has much to do with the question of temperance. Parents should take into account the relation of food to morals. The use of flesh-meat animalizes the nature. There needs to be an awakening on this point. How can anyone desire to live on the flesh of dead animals, when he has the privilege of using the fruit, grains, vegetables, and nuts that God has given us in such abundance?

Self-denial a Virtue

The enemy does everything in his power to gain control of the minds of men and women. He leads them to cultivate a perverted appetite, so that rather than to deprive themselves of injurious things, they go on in indulgence after indulgence. Self-denial is a virtue.

Brain Nerve-power to Resist Temptation

We hope that . . . those who understand the principles of health reform will exert a strong influence on the side of temperance. Let Christ’s followers abstain not only from alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee, but also from every other harmful thing that beclouds the brain. The enemy has arranged matters so as to ensnare the greatest number. He leads men and women to use stimulating food and food that beclouds the nerve-power of the brain, so that they are unable to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and evil. Parents, teach the members of your household that indulgence of appetite is the work of the enemy. Teach them to guard against his deceptions. Such instruction should be given by everyone who takes the responsibility of bringing children into the world; and especially at this stage of the world’s history fathers and mothers should realize that their children are the property of God, and that He holds them accountable to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

We are to practice temperance on every point; for we need all the brain nerve-power that it is possible for us to have in order that we may be able to resist Satan’s temptations. We are not to pamper appetite, diseasing our digestive organs by indulgence. God desires us to be true to the principles of health reform. Let us remember that we have a heaven to win and a hell to shun.

Disposition of a Christian

We are to realize that the divine Presence is constantly by our side. Christ has said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Remember that He hears every unkind word, every harsh, cutting expression. Could you see Jesus standing by your side, would you speak such words? Then guard carefully every word and action. Walk in all lowliness of mind, cherishing a spirit of meekness and kindness. Live so that others may see that there is a difference between the disposition of a Christian and the disposition of those who make no claim to be Christ’s followers.

Words that create heart-burnings and disunion should never escape the lips of Christ’s followers. We must put on Christ; we must be Christlike in every word and action. Thus we shall be partakers of the divine nature. Only by partaking of the divine nature can we live the Christ-life.

Challenge to Parents

Fathers and mothers, wherever you are, whether in your home or elsewhere, it is never right for you to speak one disrespectful word to each other. If you are harassed say, firmly, “This is from Satan. He wants me to perpetuate his words, his spirit, but I will not do it.” Determine to speak in love; to cultivate patience, kindness, long-suffering, courtesy, and delicacy in dealing with one another. Why?—Because you are a Christian; because you are preparing for the society of the heavenly angels; for a home in the kingdom of glory, where no harsh, unkind, impatient words are ever spoken. Remember that it is Satan who leads men and women to speak unkindly to one another.

Avoid Arbitrary Authority

Never should parents scold their children. Never should they administer punishment while in a fit of passion. Children cannot be trained aright in this manner. Angry parents need to be chastened by the rod themselves, instead of chastening their children. Punishment in anger only hurts and provokes. Do you want a home in heaven? We are all desirous of reaching heaven. But does anyone desire to reach heaven in order that he may fret and scold or punish in anger, and exercise arbitrary authority? On the other hand, do we not desire to reach heaven because peace reigns there; because on every side we shall hear the words, “Thy gentleness hath made me great”?

Cheerful Countenance

Mothers, take your rightful position as a loving teacher of your children. Remember that the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that moves the world. Never give expression to words of anger. Keep a cheerful countenance. Children are very susceptible to expressions of joy and sorrow. I remember that sometimes when things which caused sorrow would be brought to me while I was holding one of my children in my arms, the change of expression on my countenance would be noticed at once by my child. Seeing the expression of sadness come over my face, the little babe only three months old would burst out crying, and could hardly be pacified. At first I did not know what caused him to cry, but I soon learned.

Missionary Work at Home

Parents, let our countenances reveal constantly the peace and consolation of Christ. This is a missionary work that you are able to do at home. Missionary work begins in the home. Educate and train your children for the future immortal life. Lead them to give their hearts to God, that they with you may be numbered among His people. You can teach them to stand by you, to strengthen your hands in the missionary work; and in turn, you can strengthen them.

Parents, sanctify yourselves, that your children also may be sanctified. Sanctify your talent of speech. Words are a precious gift, capable of doing much good and accomplishing a great work for the Master. Let every word be such that you can have it written in the books of heaven without being ashamed to meet your record in the judgment.

Sanctified Speech

Great blessings are lost because of discouraging and passionate words. Brethren and sisters, learn lessons of self-control. When someone speaks passionately to you, keep silent: Feelings of anger, when met in this way, die out very quickly. A hastily spoken reply only makes matters worse.

Confess Negligence to Children

Brethren and sisters, I beg of every one of you to make the most of this camp meeting. If you have backslidden, I entreat you, for Christ’s sake, to return to Him. Be reconverted. Let the conversions begin today. Let parents confess to their children in regard to the points on which they have neglected their duty. Let them confess their negligence in regard to allowing their children to follow the fashions and to mingle in worldly society simply because they wanted to be like the world. It is impossible for us to be Christlike while we are worldly-minded. We cannot separate ourselves from the world itself; we must remain in the world; but we should separate from its evil practices, its wrong ideas, its sinfulness. We should practice self-denial in everything, in order to have power by living faith in Christ to claim the richest promises given us in His Word.

Example of the Israelites

Just before the firstborn were slain in Egypt, the Lord instructed the Israelites to gather their children into their houses with them, and to strike the lintel and the two side posts of their doors with blood, so that when the destroying angel went through the land, he would recognize the houses thus marked as the dwelling places of Christ’s followers, and pass over them.

Today we must gather our children about us, if we desire to save them from the destructive power of the evil one. The conflict between Christ and Satan will increase in intensity until the end of this earth’s history. We are to have faith in the blood of Christ, in order that we may pass safely through the perilous times just before us.

Let the children receive the blessings of this meeting. If you try to help them by personal labor in your family tents, working with Christlike simplicity, the reviving, reformatory power of God will come into your tents and enable you to pray in faith. Then you can ask for the Lord’s richest blessings to rest upon the little company in your tent.

If we work diligently upon the plan of addition, we shall not be barren in a knowledge of Christ. We should, however, take heed to ourselves, lest we fall because we do not cherish and cultivate the Christian graces. “He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” [11 Peter 1:9.] This scripture brings to view those who are in a divided state, those who talk as they please, those who indulge appetite and passionate speech, failing to take themselves in hand. Such persons have no moral strength to carry out the principles that would bring to them, as overcomers, the crown of life. They are like a man who has forgotten that he has been purged from his old sins.

Only Election in Scripture

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” [Verse 10.] This is the only election that is spoken of in the Bible. Your election is dependent on your course of action. If you will to make your election sure, you can do so; if you will to make it uncertain by sinning while professing to be righteous, you can do so. You can become angry, you can be dishonest in trade, you can in other respects follow the course of the ungodly. But will it pay? I ask you, Will it pay? Will you not determine to make your calling and election sure, and not only for yourself, but for your children? Will you not strive to bind up your children with Christ?

If you work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, you will never fall; “for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [Verse 11.] This promise is an eternal life-insurance policy, and it is offered to every one of us.

The apostle continues: “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.” [Verse 12.]

Timbers in Character Building

To those who desire to make their calling and election sure, and to obtain this eternal life-insurance policy, we would say, Remember that you are “labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] God is watching intently to see what kind of timbers parents and children put into their character building.

Kindness and Patience

When the tiller of the soil sows seed, he apparently throws away his grain. Parents may think that in teaching their children the principles of kindness and patience, they are throwing away their time and efforts. But if they are faithful in training their children, they will reap an abundant harvest as surely as will the one who sows good seed in his field.

Home to be Heaven on Earth

Parents, make your home a little heaven on earth. You can do this, if you so choose. You can make home so pleasant and cheerful that it will be the most attractive place on earth to your children. Let them receive all the blessings of the household. You can so relate yourselves to God that His Spirit will abide in your home. Come close to the bleeding side of the Man of Calvary. Those who are partakers with Him in His sufferings will at last be partakers with Him in His glory.

Life-insurance Policy

We are offered an everlasting life-insurance policy that assures us a life which measures with the life of the infinite God. We are to make manifest that we are not working for earthly riches and honor, but for a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. When we have been offered so much, shall we not with every power of the being strive to be overcomers? If such an effort made men and women miserable, if it caused them to feel that they were under condemnation, we could not appeal so strongly to you to take up the cross and follow the Saviour. But we know that the effort to run with patience the race set before you will bring happiness into your face, the sparkle of glad satisfaction into your eyes, and nobility into your soul. In this light look at the Christian’s race. Grasp the hand of the Infinite, reached down to save you. He says, “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” [Isaiah 41:13.] Remember that in God you have a mighty Helper.

Parable of the Talents

In the parable of the talents, the servant who had five talents traded upon them wisely, and in the day of reckoning was able to bring double that number to the master. The one also who had two doubled his talents. But the man who had one talent hid it in a napkin, and buried it in the earth. And when the master returned and reckoned with his servants, the sentence pronounced upon this slothful servant was “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.” [Matthew 25:28.]

Brethren and sisters, what are you doing to prepare yourselves for a home in glory? Do you realize that to everyone is given his work? God has not given all the same work. Some have a greater number of talents than others. Those who have five talents should faithfully trade upon them. To those who have two talents the Lord says, “Trade upon your talents, using and improving them to My glory.” We are to use our talents according to our several abilities.

Remember that you have at least one talent. Resolve by the grace of God to use your talent wisely, and see whether you can gain another one. Thank God that He has manifested His great love to you by entrusting you even with one talent. By word and action show that you appreciate this gift, and that you regard it as a treasure greater in value than anything else you possess. Put your talent out to the exchangers. If you use it faithfully, you will gain another talent; and by a faithful use of these two talents, you will gain two more.

One Talent

If you have received only one talent, instead of burying it, say, “I have but one talent, and I must make the most of it. I will be faithful in the little things, because the Word declares, ‘He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.’ [Luke 16:10.] I must use to the very best advantage that which is given me. I must not waste one jot or tittle of my powers in the gratification of appetite or pride of appearance. In my family I must be a faithful teacher, training my children for the future, immortal life. I must teach them to be honest and truthful, kind and patient. I myself must be all that I desire my children to be; for in speaking of His disciples, Christ said, ‘For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified.’ [John 17:19.]”

If you have buried in the earth the one talent that God entrusted to you, I beseech you to improve it before He inquires, What have you done with the talent that I gave you?

The Talent of Means

Often the talent of means is buried. Money lying unused in banks is regarded by the Lord as a buried talent. God wants His followers to use the talent of means in His service. We should do our part to carry forward the different lines of work in all parts of the earth. A great work is to be done in the cities. Camp meetings are to be held in many places. Those who have the talent of means may multiply it by using it to the work of giving to the world the message of truth for this time. When through the instrumentality of our one talent someone is brought into the truth, that one talent is doubled. And when this person brings others into the truth, there is still further increase of talents.

To him who uses aright his one talent, the Master will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” [Matthew 25:21, 23.] The well-doer is not rewarded in proportion to the number of his entrusted talents, but in proportion to the use made of that which he has, and the motive which prompts his action.

I tell you these things in order that you may individually feel that God desires to use you in His service. There is a place for you to fill in this world. If you fill this place faithfully, the Lord of heaven will work in your behalf, and you will see of the salvation of God. This is what we are so anxious for everyone to see.

In Isaiah 57:15 we read: “Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” This scripture describes the man whom God approves.

Christ is coming soon. He declared that when there would be wars and rumors of wars, when there would be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places, we might know that the time of His second appearing is near. “When these things begin to come to pass,” He declared, “then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” [Luke 21:28.]

Parable of the Fig Tree

Christ represented this time by the parable of the fig tree. “Behold the fig tree,” He said, “and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.” [Luke 21:29, 30.] The wickedness, the turmoil, the disturbances on every side, should be regarded by us as signs that the day of God is at hand.

We are standing on the verge of the eternal world. We have no time to lose. It is high time to tell the people that Christ is coming. Let us warn them, visiting them at their homes, and talking and praying with them personally. By such efforts we shall win souls to Christ. If we come to God in faith, He will give us power and grace for every duty.

Practice Economy

Let those who profess to believe present truth practice economy. God has use for every dollar that can be given to advance His work in the earth. The cities throughout America are to be worked. The Southern field in all its barrenness is staring us in the face. Who feels a burden to go there to labor? Perhaps you are inclined to find fault with those who are there; but can you not go there yourself to see what you can do in working wisely for souls ready to perish?

Criticism and Fault Finding

We have only touched upon this subject, and now we leave it with you. We greatly desire to have everyone go to work. Cease to criticize and find fault. If anyone has aught against his brother, let him go to him in the spirit of Christ and settle the difficulty. Before the power of the Holy Ghost rested upon the disciples, they spent ten days before God in prayer and fasting and confession of sin. After they had come into unity, the heavens were opened, the glory of God was revealed, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Then they went forth to proclaim the gospel with power, and under the influence of the Spirit five thousand were converted in one day.

Let us begin to look at these things as they are. The saving knowledge of the power of God should go forth from us as a lamp that burneth. Our tapers should be kindled from the divine altar.


One reason that there are not more conversions now is because you yourselves need to be converted. Just as soon as you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will see of the salvation of God. Let the breaking-up plow do its work in the heart. We desire to see everyone drawing strength from Christ by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. May God help you. May He cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and let His light shine upon you. May we see the salvation of God . . . .

[Sermon at Petaluma, California, California Conference Camp Meeting, Sabbath, June 7, 1902.] Manuscript 77, 1902.

To be continued . . .