Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65

The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now

by Terry S. Ross

In the last chapter I promised that we would go right to the Word of the Lord to establish who and what the church is and that’s just what we’re going to do. It’s alarming to find so many people who profess to be Adventists tossing out the Spirit of Prophecy. I have heard things like, “Well, if you need Ellen White, I guess that is all right for you, but I just need my Bible.” Perhaps these poor souls do not realize that when we throw away the Spirit of Prophecy, we are throwing away the Bible at the same time for, in the description of the remnant church in Revelation, one of the identifying marks of the true church is the gift of prophecy.

In the book of Acts we will discover the plain, simple truth about who and what the church is. We will better see if people are throwing out only the Spirit of Prophecy. Actually, this will prove that those who do not want to accept the truth will throw it aside no matter where it is found.

The good news is that this little study in Acts is amazingly clear and the honest Christian searching for truth and direction from the Lord will praise His name!

You know the story of Stephen. Now, was Stephen a Conference man or an Independent man? Well, of course. Stephen had been chosen by the disciples (Independent Preachers). The Conference did not recognize these men and told them they had no authority to preach. They forbade them to preach in the name of Christ.

The Independent Preachers (including Stephen) preached anyway because they didn’t get their orders from the Conference, but from the Lord. Stephen was called in by the “Conference Committee” and as he was explaining to them the prophecies concerning Christ, the Conference men became very angry. As a matter of fact, Acts 7 verse 54 says, they “gnashed on him with their teeth”. Let’s pick up the story in verse 55.

Acts 7: 55- 60: “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord [UNITY], And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”

Now we know that those who stoned Stephen were Conference Leaders. And we know that Stephen was an Independent Preacher who was being murdered by the Conference Leaders for preaching for the cause of Jesus.

Who was Saul? Was he a Conference man or an Independent? Saul, of course, was a Conference man in whom the Conference put a lot of confidence. His future with the Conference looked bright indeed. Saul was gifted in the ability of argumentation and he was bold.

One important lesson we surely don’t want to miss is the spirit Stephen possessed as the Conference was literally stoning him for taking a stand for Jesus. Stephen rather than being bitter, rather than being vengeful, asked the Lord not to lay this sin against their charge. This is the same spirit that Jesus Himself demonstrated as He was being martyred by the same Conference people. Neither one of these men shunned the duty of exposing the true character of this apostate Conference and neither took on the spirit of hate while doing it. Both Jesus and Stephen truly were “not blind, nor bitter,” but let’s read on.

Acts 8: 1- 4: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against THE CHURCH which was at Jerusalem;” STOP!

Let’s look at this closely because in these few words is a great truth and revelation! “And at that time there was a great persecution against…” whom? Yes! The church! Now who was persecuting whom in Jerusalem? Were the Romans persecuting the Conference men? No. The Conference men were persecuting the Independents and here the Bible, God’s Word, plainly says that this was THE church. Not A church but THE church. Brothers and Sisters, can it be any plainer than this? Here it is right in the Word of God and to dismiss these plain words you will have to throw away your Bibles. But let’s read on. There’s more.

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, EXCEPT THE APOSTLES.” STOP!

Do you see it? The Bible plainly states that THE church being persecuted which was scattered abroad had the apostles in it. This proves beyond any doubt whatsoever that THE church in Christ’s day was NOT the Conference but those who followed Jesus or whom the Conference would have called the Independents at that time. The Conference hated the Apostles and the other Independent Leaders who had been chosen. This is why they were persecuting them and this is why Saul was persecuting them. But hate them or not, recognize their authority to preach Christ or not, the Conference plainly did not have the say. God did! God said they were THE CHURCH! But we’re not done yet!

“And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of THE CHURCH…” STOP!

Saul made havoc of whom? Yes! THE church. Now just whom was Saul making havoc of? Was Saul making havoc of the Ancient Conference Leaders? Of course not, for he was employed by the Ancient Conference, he being an Ancient Conference man. You know, Saul was making havoc of the Independents and those who supported them for taking a stand for Jesus. Going on.

“And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of THE church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Folks, it just doesn’t get any more simple than this. Here we see clearly that although the Ancient Conference had originally been raised up by Christ Himself and was claiming, “The church is going through, the church is going through,” it was NOT THE CHURCH THAT WAS GOING THROUGH.

Most Adventists (modern day Jews) have fallen into the same trap that the Jews (Ancient Adventists) fell into. Their pride influenced them to trust wholly in the Conference which had been raised by Christ. But when the Conference became corrupt the people which didn’t adhere to principle became corrupt with them and with blind loyalty followed after these men. That’s why Jesus had so much trouble while He was here. That’s why Jesus was rejected by the Conference while He was here. That’s why Jesus rejected and brought to an end the Conference HE HAD RAISED (they hadn’t raised themselves) while He was here. That’s why Jesus chose Independent Leaders and told them to move on with the work while He was here. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHY HE IS DOING THE SAME THING TODAY.

What are our people reading today?! Many of you know the quotations which clearly tell us that the last day leaders will be educated by the Holy Spirit rather than by literary institutions, that God will have leaders in the last days of His own choosing. Doesn’t it clearly seem that the Lord is having to do just what He had to do while He was here? Are we like King Belshazzar who could not read the handwriting on the wall? This lesson that we are studying is vital! Just as vital to our understanding as it was in the days of our precious Lord for ONLY THOSE WHO GRASP THE LESSON WILL BE SAVED! Please allow me to ask another question. I don’t want anyone to miss these simple truths.

Later in the same story of Saul, what happened to him? He was on his way to Damascus continuing his persecution of THE church. He was on his way there to find those who were following the Independents and to throw them in jail. We read about it in Acts 9: 1- 2: “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”

So what Saul was doing was securing the authority from the Conference to go down to the local churches to disfellowship people in the strongest way. He was going to take care of these troublers of Israel who followed Jesus Christ, those whom the Conference rejected. But Saul never got the job done. Something happened out of the ordinary and we read about it in the very next verses.

Acts 9: 3- 5: “And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined around about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:…”

And so on the road to Damascus Saul literally sees the light and realizes that although he may have thought he was doing the proper work, he was actually persecuting the wrong people. The story goes on, as you know, and because of this experience on the Damascus road, Saul is blinded and spends a few days in Damascus. While there the Lord sends a disciple, Ananias, to him who gave him back his sight and he was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 9: 17- 18: “And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”

This is where the story of Saul’s intended work takes a drastic change and also where the prior claims which the Bible sets forth regarding who was THE CHURCH is verified once again.

Acts 9: 19- 21: “And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that DESTROYED THEM WHICH CALL ON THIS NAME IN JERUSALEM, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests?”

Can there be any doubt as to what the Bible is clearly saying here? I think not. God’s Word is expressing in Acts 9 exactly what it did in Acts 7 & 8. God’s church was being persecuted in Jerusalem and that church was NOT the Conference.

Understandably, the church in Damascus (the followers of Jesus) was very apprehensive of Saul. They rightly stated that this was the same man who was persecuting the church in Jerusalem and they were nervous about trusting this Conference man. They were concerned that his intent was to drag them off to the Conference Committee that had already killed Jesus and stoned Stephen. It’s true that this was Saul’s original intent but the Lord had other plans, praise His name!

Acts 9: 22: “But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”

So, I think Saul understood the situation and was willing to take up his new duties immediately to prove his new loyalty. You might want to ponder the point that Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, lead Saul to preach in His name rather than send him back to some literary institution. What happens next is very interesting and proves that the apostate Conference will, in the end, even turn on its own men rather than listen to plain words of truth.

Acts 9: 23: “And after that many days were fulfilled, the JEWS TOOK COUNSEL TO KILL HIM.”

The story goes on, of course, and Saul tries to work with the disciples in Jerusalem but they are nervous about his intentions. The Lord eventually works out the details and Saul becomes Paul — one of our heroes.

In this story we can learn many things and I want to ask a few questions which will give opportunity for you to reflect upon some important points. Why did the Jews now want to kill Paul, (Saul)? When he saw the truth as it is in Jesus, what was his course of action? Did Saul, who became Paul, continue to persecute THE church or did he support it and which church after his conversion was it that he supported? Did Saul remain a Conference Leader or did he become an Independent Leader? Did the Ancient Adventist Conference support his decision? Will Saul, who became Paul, who became an Independent Leader for Jesus, be in heaven or will the Ancient Adventist Conference Leaders?

I can’t place enough emphasis on the above scriptures and the vital lessons that are clearly in them. What a glorious God we serve Who has made provision for our every need. Most will end up like the Ancient Adventists did, unfortunately. Our own books tell us this but we who love the truth as it is in Jesus need not be deceived. Now let’s get back into the Desire of Ages and continue our study in prophetic parallels.

DA 590: “The priests and rulers had hardened their hearts through selfishness and avarice. The very symbols pointing to the Lamb of God they had made a means of getting gain. Thus in the eyes of the people the sacredness of the sacrificial service had been in a great measure destroyed…. AGAINST THESE PRACTICES CHRIST HAD SPOKEN THROUGH THE PROPHETS.”

What is Avarice? Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language says: “insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth.” Insatiable means: “not satiable; incapable of being satisfied.” The word inordinate is described as: “not within proper limits; immoderate; excessive; disorderly; uncontrolled; unrestrained in conduct, feelings, etc.”

Did you know that millions of the dollars of which God has entrusted to you and of which you believed were going directly into the Lord’s work have been gambled in the stocks and bonds market? That’s right. You didn’t misread it. As a matter of fact, I have the documentation which proves that in 1980, at least $117,000,000 were “invested” in the world market. The documentation is very revealing to the layman who has no idea that this has been happening and this documentation is available through Servants of the Saviour. Let me share a letter written in 1983 by one concerned soul who understood what was going on.

“Dear Elder xxxxxx, “As a faithful member of the Seventh- day Adventist church, I am greatly concerned in regard to what goes on within the church structure. At this writing, I am concerned regarding the finances and handling of the finances of the church. The December 31, 1980 financial report of the General Conference of Seventh- day Adventists Investments leaves many unanswered questions. This report shows that as of December 31, 1980 the General Conference had $117,858,288.07 in investments, and the current value as of December 31, 1980 was $103,909,802.99, making a net loss of $13,948,379.92. This figure alone makes it very plain that our financial leaders and advisors in the General Conference are woefully lacking in following the Lord’s specific instructions to His church. Furthermore, 54 of the long- term investments do not mature until 2000 to 2020 A. D. and this amounts to almost $20,000,000. I have a question. Are the brethren in the financial department of our church putting off the coming of our Lord, or do they really expect Him to come at all? You will find these long- term investments listed on pages 28, 29, 30, 33, 47, 48, 49, 50, and 52 of the 1980 financial report of the General Conference.

“Those of us who are old enough to remember what happened in the years 1930- 1932 know perfectly well that if we had a depression now such as we had at that time, these millions of dollars of the Lord’s funds would be worthless as far as carrying on the church work is concerned.”

This same brother who has shared this documentation with us has also informed me that a couple of years after this letter was written, he was told that the invested amount had risen to over $250,000,000 and a couple of years after that to over $450,000,000!

There is not much I could add to what the letter above states but I would like to ask just three honest questions to go along with those already asked in the letter. Did you know that the funds you were sending in to “finish the work” were being invested in stocks and bonds? Why is God’s money being invested in worldly enterprises in the first place? And do you want to continue sending your dollars to those who do NOT place them into the finishing of God’s work but invest them in the stock market?

I can assure you that God will hold everyone responsible for what happens to the means He has entrusted to them according to the knowledge they have. And this principle doesn’t stop with the leadership, but is just as binding right down through the ranks to the lowliest layman.

In the Desire of Ages, it states that the very things God had entrusted to the church were turned into a way of making large profits and this caused many to lose respect for the sacredness of these entrustments.

I have always been offended (because I believe the Lord is) by the selling of magazine subscriptions, such as the Signs of the Times, in the Sanctuary on the Sabbath. I was a colporteur for about three years. I would never have thought of selling a book on the Sabbath and certainly not in the Sanctuary! I would have given one away, if need be, but never would have done business during these sacred hours or in the Sanctuary. This plainly would have been a violation of the Fourth Commandment. But the Conference thinks nothing of selling these things on Sabbath in the Sanctuary. This is something even the apostate Jews didn’t do! Has the result been a lowering of sacredness for the sanctuary, the Sabbath, and other sacred things? You know it has. In many ways we are worse than the Jews who, we readily admit, rejected Jesus.

DA 590: “HE KNEW THAT HIS EFFORTS TO REFORM A CORRUPT PRIESTHOOD WOULD BE IN VAIN; nevertheless His work must be done; to an unbelieving people the evidence of His divine mission must be given.”

Jesus knew that His work to reform the corrupt Ancient Conference would be in vain. We have been showing for years how the Conference is in apostasy and have tried to plead with these men to reform, but it has been in vain. Jesus, although knowing the Ancient Conference wouldn’t reform, did His work anyway. Why? Because on the books of Heaven the warnings have to be recorded; also others who were listening to the words of Christ would some day be converted. Even though we know that our work is in vain toward an apostate Conference, we also know that honest souls will come to conversion as a result of it, just as they did in Christ’s day. The same loving Jesus is still working through the Holy Spirit Who speaks to those who are willing to be taught. We must continue our work, having faith that these precious souls will come to a correct knowledge and walk in the light.

DA 591: “Those standing nearest Him drew as far away as the crowd would permit. Except for a few of His disciples, the Saviour stood alone.”

As this contest intensifies, the majority of those calling themselves Adventists will draw as far away from the truth as they dare and from those who are advocating it. Like the disciples of Christ, we must be willing to stand with Him alone and will have many opportunities to do just that. When it came time to stand against the apostate Conference in Christ’s day, but few were willing.

DA 592: “But a large number pressed through the hurrying crowd, eager to reach Him who was their only hope.”

These are the ones Christ is working for. These are the precious souls who accept His sacrifice on the cross and are willing to stay on the narrow path of Jesus wherever it leads them. These are those who realize that Jesus is their ONLY hope.

DA 592: “When the panic had abated, they were seized with anxiety to know what would be the next movement of Jesus.”

Here Jesus was coming to stand in His rightful place in the sanctuary which He had ordained. Here He was standing in the midst of the people He had chosen. HE OWNED THEIR VERY NAME, ISRAEL (are you thinking about parallels?), for it was He who had given it to Jacob. Why then were these Conference men and their loyal followers panicking?

Now you must know that after Jesus had cleansed the temple the first time that these Conference Leaders met in one of their committee meetings and discussed what had just taken place. I can almost hear them saying, “If this young fellow from Nazareth ever tries anything like that again, it will be a much different story. We’ll take care of him next time!”

Well, it did happen again and they panicked again! Why? Because darkness and Light cannot co-habitate. When Christ takes a commanding position, the devil’s agents have to give way. As the evidence of apostasy continues to be uncovered and Jesus makes plain to those who want to know the truth, we will witness more and more panic from the apostate Conference Leadership. Panic finally drove the Ancient Conference to seek out, persecute, and murder its own people. Has anything changed after two thousand years? Are you beginning to understand why this study is so important and why Jesus wanted us to have this knowledge? I pray that you are.

DA 593: “One whom they could not intimidate was in command.” So many times I have witnessed Seventh- day Adventist laymen shake in their shoes when someone from the conference was “sent down” to their church to take care of a “problem.” Maybe you have been one of those who have become very nervous when this event has taken place. If you have or have been involved in a meeting of this type, you know what I’m referring to. It seems the whole church just automatically crumbles in fear when the conference man shows up. I’m so glad that Jesus was “One whom they could not intimidate,” aren’t you?

In this little statement there’s a revealing lesson to be learned. If we are being intimidated by those who are trying to get us to serve something or someone other than Jesus, then Jesus is not our Commander. When we are totally converted and Jesus is in full command we cannot be intimidated by anyone, especially those who are trying to scare us into doing that which would dishonor our Lord.

DA 593: “Repairing to the temple where He was teaching, they proceeded to question Him: ‘By what authority doest Thou these things? and who gave Thee this authority? ’ They expected Him to claim that His authority was from God. Such an assertion they intended to deny. But Jesus met them with a question apparently pertaining to another subject, and He made His reply to them conditional on their answering this question. ‘The baptism of John, ’ He said, ‘whence was it? from heaven, or of men? ’”

Are you thinking about parallels? Have you heard similar questions being asked about those who are just preaching and teaching the truth? What they were really telling Christ was, “You can’t preach! You didn’t go to any of our schools and you haven’t obtained our permission!”

John 7: 14- 16: “Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, HAVING NEVER LEARNED? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.” If you read the remainder of John 7, you will see that the apostate Conference Leadership didn’t want Jesus to preach and were actively trying to stop Him.

They also asked Jesus, “Who gave thee this authority?” or “Who told you that you could be a pastor?” Many times have I heard this question. To many, just as in Jesus’ day the question is not: Is this man bringing to us truth? It is rather: Who said you could preach or who said you could be a pastor? The inference is, of course, the Conference didn’t say that you could be a pastor, so what do you think you’re doing? How sad that we have all this history of the Ancient Adventists and we are still asking such questions. How Satan must marvel at our dullness of mind and stupidity. But, fortunately, the lessons don’t stop here.

DA 593- 4: “The priests saw that they were in a dilemma from which no sophistry could extricate them. If they said that John’s baptism was from heaven, their inconsistency would be made apparent. Christ would say, Why have ye not then believed on him? John had testified of Christ, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. ’ JOHN 1: 29. If the priests believed John’s testimony, how could they deny the Messiahship of Christ? IF THEY DECLARED THEIR REAL BELIEF, THAT JOHN’S MINISTRY WAS OF MEN, THEY WOULD BRING UPON THEMSELVES A STORM OF INDIGNATION; for the people believed John to be a prophet.”

One important lesson we can learn is how to use the methods of Christ; here is the parallel of the above quotation. When someone or some leader who claims to be an Adventist is giving you trouble when you are merely trying to clarify the truth, just ask them from where did the Spirit of Prophecy come? The writings of Ellen White, from where did they come? From the Devil or from God? If the person says from God, you should rightly be able to direct him to whatever references state the truth you are promoting. If he says from the Devil, he will be exposing himself. It’s a good question and just what the Lord did in similar circumstances. This won’t always work, however, and there’s another valuable lesson that is vital for us to know and understand.

In the introductory pages 6- 11 of Great Controversy, Sister White claims very plainly to be that prophet who has come in the Spirit and power of Elijah. She says that you either have to acknowledge her prophetic gift as from God or the Devil, one way or the other. Now read these words once more and let’s see the implication.

“If they [the apostate Conference Leaders] declared their real belief, that John’s ministry was of men, they would bring upon themselves a storm of indignation: for the people believed John to be a prophet.”

Dear fellow Adventists, we have to stop being so naive! Don’t you realize that a large portion of the professed Leadership of the Adventist “church” does not believe Ellen G. White to be inspired! As a matter of fact, they are trying to eradicate her. From a large number of pulpits every Sabbath her writings are either being dismissed or actively trashed. But if you think these Conference Leaders are so foolhardy as to openly declare their true belief (“ that John’s [Ellen White’s] ministry was [is] of men,” and “bring upon themselves a storm of indignation”), then we are indeed in need of the eye salve.

DA 594: “By their cowardice and indecision they had in a great measure forfeited the respect of the people, who now stood by, amused to see these proud, self- righteous men defeated.”

While all this apostasy has been going on openly in the Adventist structure, the same cowardice and indecision have taken place. You probably remember when we first began exposing the “Celebration” churches, the official statement from the Conference was that we will “wait and see.” Brothers and Sisters, Jesus never “waits and sees” in the midst of a spiritual crisis! Aren’t you glad that He doesn’t? If men who call themselves leaders are afraid to lead, then surely it would be better for them to find a position somewhere in which their influence would be minimized. Since they are not likely to pursue that course, let me tell you how it can be brought about anyway. DON’T ALLOW THEM TO LEAD YOU! We can place the blame on the “leaders,” and this is correct to some extent, but that’s not where fault stops. The decision of who leads YOU firmly rests with your own God- given power of choice. I am very happy to say that many have already made this choice and are determined to support those leaders who are supporting the truth, as it is in Jesus.

While the Conference Leaders continue to “wait and see,” Satan continues to divide and conquer. “By their cowardice and indecision they had [have] in a great measure forfeited the respect of the people.”

Before we move on, let me point out one other revealing truth about this decision to “wait and see” where it concerns the “Celebration” churches. Garrie Williams wrote the manual “Trinity Power Circle” that mirrors another book, “20/ 20 Vision” written by a “Celebration” Sunday preacher by the name of Dale Galloway. My research and subsequent exposure to this manual clearly showed that “Trinity Power Circle” was the manual for bringing the celebration service into our churches. Many Adventist Conference men would have you believe that they didn’t really have a part in all this and they weren’t even educated enough to make a judgement on it, so they wanted to “wait and see.” But Brothers and Sisters, I have “Trinity Power Circle” and PLAINLY WRITTEN ON THE BACK COVER ARE THE WORDS “GENERAL CONFERENCE WORLD MINISTRY COUNCIL, INDIANAPOLIS 1990. SEMINAR NO. GCM 7274″!! Did Garrie Williams slip these words onto the back cover without anybody from the General Conference knowing about it? If we believe that, we are very naive! Let’s read the quotation from the back cover about the author.

“Garrie Williams is a New Zealander by birth who studied and worked in Australia for 15 years before moving to the USA in 1982. He has served the Seventh- day Adventist Church as a pastor, evangelist, college lecturer and, since 1985, as Ministerial Director of Oregon Conference. Elder Williams has TRAVELED EXTENSIVELY AROUND THE WORLD and has taught Spirit- filled ministry seminars in a NUMBER OF DIVISIONS. In 1987 he FOUNDED the Homes of Hope small group ministry, and in 1989 and 1990 was chairman of the FIRST NATIONAL Adventist Small Group Conference. Garrie Williams is strongly committed to the historic Seventh- day Adventist message and mission, and believes that we are living in the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

This quotation really says a lot! It reveals that this man has been intricately involved with the General Conference which has known for years what he has been doing. When you think about it, the main men who have plagued the Seventh- day Adventist “church” with heresy in recent years have mostly come from either the West coast or from Down Under. (And you can take that any way you wish, the application fits either way.) Is it any surprise that the author of 20/ 20 Vision is the proprietor and pastor of the Sunday- going celebration church which was the same one rented by the Seventh- day Adventists who started the first “Celebration” church in Oregon that became known as the Milwaukee Church? Isn’t it also a coincidence that the Seventh- day Adventist Conference Office of the Pacific Northwest is a mere four blocks or so from the same church?

As we continue to uncover these important truths for God’s honest children, it is wonderful to realize that many are breaking the mold of their past and studying to show themselves approved of God. Friends, we are in a desperate struggle for our very salvation. We are moving rapidly to the center of this battle that will intensify to the bitter end. The enemy will not surrender and he is not likely to give up any ground easily. I am happy to say, however, that just a few years ago there were only a handful who saw what was going on. Now there are many more.

DA 594 “But as the popular feeling turned in His favor, the hatred of the priests toward Jesus increased.”

We can read our own future in this statement and I believe the Lord would have us do just that. He warned His disciples many times of what was to come and He would have us realize that we, too, face the same future. Many of us have thought that it would be in the world where our greatest danger lay but we now realize: “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.” 1SM 122.

DA 595- 6 “In His contest with the rabbis, it was not Christ’s purpose to humiliate His opponents. He was not glad to see them in a hard place. He had an important lesson to teach.”

For those who still say that it’s sinful to enter into this exposure of the Conference Leaders, we ask the question: What does “In His contest with the rabbis…” mean? We need so much to quickly learn that: “Our work is an aggressive one, and as faithful soldiers of Jesus, we must bear the blood- stained banner into the very strongholds of the enemy. ‘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. ’ If we will consent to lay down our arms, to lower the blood- stained banner, to become the captives and servants of Satan, we may be released from the conflict and the suffering. But this peace will be gained only at the loss of Christ and heaven. We cannot accept peace on such conditions. Let it be war, war, to the end of earth’s history, rather than peace THROUGH APOSTASY AND SIN.”

But on the other hand, Jesus was not elated that His work had to put them in a difficult place. His motive was one of salvation and He was sorrowed to see human beings for whom He was about to die being humiliated. There is a real fear we need to respect — that we will become bitter toward our enemies. Jesus would have us ever keep in mind that vengeance is the Lord’s alone and we are to love even our enemies and not hate them. We are to be “not blind, nor bitter.” Our work must be the same work as Christ’s. That means that some of us will have to do the unpleasant work of exposure, etc. But we are to do our work that precious souls might cast their lot for Jesus — NOT BECAUSE WE ENJOY SEEING PEOPLE BURN! The Bible plainly teaches that any man who takes on this attitude of Satan, even though he may be gifted in all other areas, will himself be lost. Especially as the battle intensifies, we need the grace of Jesus in our lives so that the enemy of all souls is not able to place his character of hate into our motives. As the quotation above (DA 594) states, “the hatred of the priests [apostate leaders] toward Jesus [His followers in these last days] increased,” we will need the love of Jesus fully to keep our own motivation pure.

DA 595- 6: “They made great professions of piety, they claimed to be obeying the law of God, but they rendered only a false obedience. The publicans were denounced and cursed by the Pharisees as infidels; but they showed by their faith and works that they were going into the kingdom of heaven before those self- righteous men who had been given great light, but whose works did not correspond to their profession of godliness.”

Jesus is trying to teach us that we should not follow the example of or allow the influence of such men to rule over us. Yes, we are all human beings and we all make mistakes. But making an occasional mistake (and repenting for it) and making a mockery of inspiration are two different things. You know the difference. The Lord says that we should not allow the men who have no real interest (demonstrated by their works) in the truths we hold near and dear to our hearts to have persuasion over our lives.

DA 597 : “His warnings, failing to arouse them to repentance, would seal their doom, and He wished them to see that they had brought ruin on themselves. He designed to show them the justice of God in the withdrawal of their national privileges, which had already begun, and which would end, not only in the destruction of their temple and their city, but in the dispersion of the nation.”

Jesus came to the very church He had raised. He had handpicked them from among the other nations that He might show the rest of the world His goodness. This church had gone its own way and was misrepresenting Christ while professing to be the expression of who He was. Over the years Jesus had sent many to warn this church of the certain disaster that a lack of repentance and reform would bring. This church’s leaders, time and time again, refused these warnings. Now Jesus had come Himself to give the last call and was being rejected by the people who owed their very existence to Him.

Today, dear friends, can you see the parallel experience that we are passing through? If you ask any professed Adventists if we are living in the last days most of them would say, “Yes.” Do they not see then that the warning given in the message to the Laodiceans is the last message and that its close is in the near future? Oh! that we would understand the time of our visitation! The last message to God’s professed people is going forward. We ARE living in the reality of Ezekiel chapter 8. Ezekiel, chapter 9, is just around the corner and what are we doing!? As these statements reveal, the main reason that the Adventist system will be lost will be due to those apostate leaders who refuse to be guided by the Holy Spirit.

Not only this but to some degree we will continue to lose our national privileges and the dispersion of the Adventist “nation” will be caused by these self- destructing professors of Adventism.

The next line in The Desire of Ages is startling; the implication and the lesson to be applied is extremely important for us to better understand our situation.

DA 597: “The hearers recognized the warning.”

Dear precious Adventist friends, please understand that we are dealing with apostate leaders who have calculated what they are doing. They KNOW AND RECOGNIZE THE WARNING. However, they are determined to carry out their present agenda. I can tell you with a completely clear Christian conscience that the agenda hasn’t changed and these apostate leaders are forging ahead. Please don’t be fooled by an occasional strategically well- placed statement here or there. These occasional statements or articles are one of two things. Either a Joseph or Nicodemus is trying to hold the line from the inside or they are calculated to deceive you about the intentions or direction of apostate leaders. Do not be tricked by those who come in old clothes and have molded bread. We need to pray earnestly for the eyesalve of discernment. Our lovely Jesus will make sure it is applied if we do our honest part. He has died for us that we might be saved and He brings these truths forward that you shouldn’t be deceived. We may have made mistakes in the past. We may at times have felt that we are struggling to learn and understand. But let us run to Jesus, for “In Christ the guilty heart has found relief. His is the sure foundation. ALL WHO MAKE HIM THEIR DEPENDENCE REST IN PERFECT SECURITY.” “To fall upon the Rock and be broken is to give up our self- righteousness and to go to Christ with the humility of a child, repenting of our transgressions, and believing in His forgiving love. And so also it is by faith and obedience that we build on Christ as our foundation.” DA 599.

DA 600: “And what was it that destroyed the Jews?” I hope you are still thinking about prophetic parallels as you read this inspired answer to this most important question:

DA 600: “Men set themselves in opposition to God, and all that would have been their salvation was turned to their destruction. All that God ordained unto life, they found to be unto death. In the Jews’ crucifixion of Christ was involved the destruction of Jerusalem. The blood shed upon

Calvary was the weight that sunk them to ruin for this world and for the world to come. …

“By many illustrations and repeated warnings, Jesus showed what would be the result to the Jews of rejecting the Son of God. In these words He was addressing all in every age who refused to receive Him as their Redeemer. Every warning is for them. The desecrated temple, the disobedient son, the false husbandmen, the contemptuous builders, have their counterpart in the experience of every sinner. Unless he repent, the doom which they foreshadowed will be his.”

It is critical, friends, that we understand what constitutes God’s true church. After all, the great controversy is all over what? Yes, whom you are going to worship. We need to take God at His Word and not replace it with man’s opinion or popular committee votes. There is no such thing as a democratic legislation by the professed church on how to be admitted into God’s kingdom. I guarantee, based on the Word of God, that when we are all standing at the Judgment Bar of God, He will not acquiesce to the authority of the Conference Committee.

I will admit that the apostate Adventist Leaders and their followers do have a church. In the book of Revelation, both the true and this other church are spoken of so it would be well for us to read about these churches and their last experience with one another on earth.

Revelation 3: 8- 9, 12: “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my work, and hast not denied my name. Behold I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, WHICH SAY THEY ARE JEWS, AND ARE NOT, BUT DO LIE; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”

All those professed Adventists who believe in the doctrine of the “New Theology;” all professed Adventists who are preaching and believing that we don’t have to overcome but can go on sinning and still get into the kingdom because, after all, Jesus understands; all these poor diluted souls have a church but it is the synagogue of Satan.

Brothers and Sisters, be ye not deceived! Jesus does understand and it is not He who is confused, it is us! Read your Bible for it plainly states, “to him who overcometh will I grant.” What we need to do is quit loving sin and love Jesus enough to understand and believe by an experiential knowledge that we serve an all knowing, all loving, ALL POWERFUL God who will indeed finish the work of perfection which He has started in EVERY WILLING SOUL. May we, poor sinners take on the humility of our crucified Saviour and learn these most sacred truths.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements and Forward
Chapter 1 Desire of Ages — Chapter 63
Chapter 2 Desire of Ages — Chapter 64
Chapter 3 Desire of Ages — Chapter 65
Chapter 4 Desire of Ages — Chapters 66 & 67
Chapter 5 Desire of Ages — Chapters 68 & 69
Chapter 6 Desire of Ages — Chapters 70, 71 & 72
Chapter 7 Desire of Ages — Chapter 73
Chapter 8 Desire of Ages — Chapters 74 & 75
Chapter 9 Desire of Ages — Chapters 76 & 77
Chapter 10 Desire of Ages — Chapter 78

The Race to Contact the Dead, Part III

The fascination with death, and the realization of the impossibility of escape from death, has led many into a race to contact the dead. The phenomenon of claiming to contact the dead is becoming almost common place. With the increased interest in afterlife, it becomes necessary for every Christian to thoroughly investigate the Scriptures to see what God’s Word teaches about what happens at death. In both the Old and New Testaments, death is referred to as a sleep. In the King James Version of the Bible, similar words such as “sleep, sleepeth, asleep” are used to describe death in no less than 60 verses. The testimony of the Bible is unmistakable. “For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; Nevermore will they have a share In anything done under the sun. . . . Whatever your hand finds to do, do [it] with your might; for [there is] no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10.

What happens at death? The spirit, that spark of life, returns to God, and the body decays back into dust. Man is sleeping in the grave, peacefully awaiting the resurrection.

By saying that the soul does not die, that it simply floats to eternal bliss or eternal misery, we are in reality saying that the soul is immortal. The soul is not immortal; God alone is immortal. “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17.

Reward Received at the Resurrection

We see all through the New Testament that the great hope of the apostles was the resurrection, and it is the resurrection that is to be our great hope as well. It is the resurrection that is to be our comfort in the time of loss.

It is the resurrection, not death, which we are repeatedly taught to look forward to—when we will receive our reward. Jesus said, “And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14. Paul hoped, “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:11. He was looking forward, as Jesus said, to the resurrection of the dead. Paul also said, “I have hope in God, which they themselves [the Jews, his accusers] also accept, that there will be a resurrection of [the] dead, both of [the] just and [the] unjust.” Acts 24:15.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul combats the belief that there is no resurrection (similar to today’s belittling of the importance of the resurrection) and makes some very revealing statements. “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.” “Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Verses 13, 18, 19. If there is no resurrection, then the dead have perished. He did not say that they are in heaven without bodies, he said they are perished, and the only thing that we would have to look forward to is this life, which would be most miserable.

Paul clearly did not teach that immediately when a person dies he ascends to heaven. He taught that at the resurrection all ascend to heaven together. The babies who have died do not go to a strange place without their mother or their father; they are in an unconscious sleep until the resurrection when all can go to heaven together. God’s way truly is best.

When we rationally think about the resurrection, it is the only thing that would make sense anyway, for the Bible constantly talks about a judgment. God has an appointed time for the judgment (see Acts 17:31), and throughout the Bible it is repeatedly talked about as a future event. (See Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; 3:15, 17; 11:9.) We are also told, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ . . . .” 2 Corinthians 5:10. If a person went directly to heaven or to hell before the judgment day, that would be incredibly unfair. Who has ever heard of a judge condemning a person to prison before he was found guilty? Yet this is what people think God is doing. What a misrepresentation of our loving God! God would never sentence a person to death, or life, before a fair trial had been given. Revelation pictures the judgment taking place (see Revelation 20:11–13) and then, after the judgment occurs, is the “lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14, 15. God is just, and the punishment will not be executed until the judgment, or trial, takes place. Thus all the dead righteous and wicked are asleep in their graves, awaiting their respective resurrections. (See John 5:28, 29.)

The Thief on the Cross

As in any subject that we study from the Bible, there are a few texts that can confuse us and make things hard to understand. We must always remember the Biblical principle of getting the weight of the evidence. “Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those [just] weaned from milk? Those [just] drawn from the breasts? For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” Isaiah 28:9, 10. “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13. If we are going to understand what God is telling us in His Word about a subject, we must compare scripture with scripture. We must put precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little. We must get the entire picture to see what God is trying to tell us. We must not isolate one verse from the rest of the Bible and build a doctrine upon it. We must get the weight of evidence and allow the weight of evidence to determine our thinking upon a subject. There are always going to be a few verses that make it difficult for us to understand, but if we look upon the subject as a whole, comparing all the verses, the Holy Spirit will teach us the truth.

One such verse, that can be used to stand in contradiction to the weight of evidence of what the Bible says about death, is what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. “Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’ ” Luke 23:42, 43. At first glance it does appear that Jesus is promising the thief that he will be in Paradise that very day. There are a few problems with that interpretation, though. The first is that it contradicts the vast majority of other references on the subject. The second is that Jesus did not even go to Paradise that day!

On resurrection morning, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that Jesus was not there. She immediately ran to get the other disciples and they came and verified that what she said was correct; then they returned to their own homes. Mary, on the other hand, stayed at the garden weeping, where she mistakes Jesus for the gardener, until He calls her by name. Immediately she throws herself at His feet, but “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and [to] My God and your God.” ’ ” John 20:17. Jesus plainly told Mary that He had not yet ascended to the Father. On Sunday morning, shortly after the resurrection, Jesus had not yet ascended to the throne of God, where Paradise and the Tree of Life are. (Compare Revelation 2:7; 22:1, 2.) How could Jesus have been with the thief in Paradise on Friday, if He had not even gone to Paradise before Sunday morning? Clearly it must not be teaching that Jesus promised that the thief would be in Paradise that very day, for that would make a liar out of Him.

What was Jesus saying? When we look back to the Greek, we find that there was no punctuation. Not only was there no punctuation, there were not even spaces or lowercase letters. The translators did a marvelous job in translating and putting in the punctuation, but they did not always put the punctuation in the right places. An example of this can be found in Acts 19:12. In the King James Version it reads that the handkerchiefs were sick and so Paul healed them, and the diseases and unclean spirits went out from them. Clearly the comma was misplaced in this instance. If it is placed after the word “sick,” it makes perfect sense. By putting the comma after “today” instead of before “today,” Luke 23:43 agrees with all the rest of scripture. It would then read, “Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Jesus is simply making the declaration today; even though the thief had waited until the last hours of his life, today he was guaranteed that he would be in Paradise. Jesus was saying to the thief, as he said to Zacchaeus, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Luke 19:9. The thief is now unconsciously sleeping in the grave until the resurrection, just like all the other righteous dead.

Saul and the Witch

Since we are talking about contacting the dead, we should look at another instance that is sometimes used to justify this activity and the erroneous idea that we can communicate with the dead. This instance is found in 1 Samuel 28:3–19. We find here that even though Saul had previously “put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land” (verse 3), in his apostasy he consulted a medium, an act which the Lord calls an abomination. Notice verse 6: “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.” The Lord had left Saul. Now when Saul longed for communication with the Lord, the Lord refused to answer him. So Saul turned to the agent of Satan, one who claimed to be able to call up the dead.

Saul asks for Samuel to be brought up. Samuel was a true prophet, and verse 6 already made it clear that the Lord did not answer by prophets. When Saul asks what the woman sees, she replies, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.” Verse 13. Saul did not see anything; it was only the medium who saw this spirit. It also does not say that she saw Samuel, but simply a spirit. Saul then “perceived that it [was] Samuel.” Verse 14. Saul bows down to the spirit. This is conclusive evidence that it was not Samuel, for not even good angels allow people to bow down to them. (See Revelation 19:10.) If it was truly Samuel, there is no way that Samuel would have tolerated obeisance to him. It is true that the spirit claimed to be Samuel, but would not an evil spirit follow through with its deception and claim to be the one it is impersonating? It is also true that “the spirit” told the truth about what was going to happen, but the devil tells the truth at times when it makes his deceptions more plausible. The devils repeatedly told the truth that Jesus was the Son of God. (See Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:23–25; 3:11.) Does that mean that they are good spirits? Absolutely not! The evil spirit in this instance was just telling the truth to be more deceptive.

It would have been unnecessary to try to deceive Saul anyway, for he was already a lost man. The Lord had become his enemy, and he was to die the next day. Notice one of the reasons that Saul was killed: “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance.” 1 Chronicles 10:13.

Saul, in total apostasy, consulted a medium, which is an abomination, and he died because of it. The medium was the only one who saw anything—a “spirit ascending out of the earth,” not Samuel, although it resembled Samuel. Saul worshipped this spirit, which Samuel would never have allowed. The Lord would not answer Saul by prophets, and Samuel was a prophet. Surely it was not Samuel who was consulted, but an evil spirit impersonating Samuel.

Spirits in the Last Days

In the days in which we live, it is so important that we understand the truth about contacting the dead. Revelation tells us that it will be the spirits of devils that are going to gather the world together for the Battle of Armageddon. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [coming] out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, [which] go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Revelation 16:13, 14. John sees the spirit of demons doing signs and deceiving the world into uniting on the wrong side of the Battle of Armageddon. “And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!’ ” Revelation 18:2. The last day power of Babylon is mentioned as being a habitation of demons and a prison for every foul spirit.

In the last days, these foul spirits and demons are going to play a large part in deceiving the world into worshipping the beast power. They will appear, impersonating our dead loved ones, to teach us that we need to worship the beast. Beware! Do not listen to them, for they are the spirits of demons. They may even appear as the apostles or other early Christian figures, teaching things contrary to the writings of Scripture, but beware! The apostles and early Christians are sleeping in the grave awaiting the resurrection. They will not rise “till the heavens [are] no more, They will not awake Nor be roused from their sleep.” Job 14:12.

The race to contact the dead is well under progress today, but it will grow and increase. Do not be surprised to see miraculous appearances and signs from those who claim to be deceased—they are none other than the agents of Satan to deceive the world into accepting the mark of the beast. Everything must be tested by the great test given in God’s Word: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20. It does not matter how good and wonderful a spirit may appear; if it claims to have returned from the dead, it is false, because it is contradicting the testimony of the Word of God. There is no light in it. We must know for a certainty and remember what the Word of God teaches on this crucial topic, or we will be deceived by the wiles of the devil in the last days.

We do not need to fear, though, for God is stronger than all the might of the adversary. God has promised that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39. If we keep our life hid in Christ, we will be safe from the powerful delusions that will take the world captive. The ones who are deceived are those who do “not receive the love of the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:10. All who are carefully and prayerfully studying the Word of God, for His “word is truth” (John 17:17), and who are purifying their “souls in obeying the truth” (1 Peter 1:22), will be shielded from the deceptions of the devil. Those who are willing to follow and believe God’s Word, whatever it says, will be “kept by the power of God through faith” and will receive the end of their faith—the salvation of their souls. (1 Peter 1:5, 9.) Praise God for teaching us the truth from His Word that we need not be deceived. May each one of us be among that group who are protected from the last powerful delusions.

Lessons from the Life of David – David and Saul

February 3 – 9, 2019

Key Text

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid” (Psalm 27:1)?

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 661–663; Ibid., 675–689.


“There is joy and consolation for the true-hearted, faithful Christian, that the world knows not of. To them it is a mystery.” Sons and Daughters of God, 354.



  • What can we all learn from David’s attitude when Saul was asleep? 1 Samuel 26:2, 7–12.

Note: “When Saul was repeatedly placed in his power, and his followers would have killed him, David would not permit them to do so, although he was in continual fear of his own life, and was pursued like a wild beast by Saul.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 91.

  • How did David put Abner and Saul to shame in the wilderness of Ziph? 1 Samuel 26:13–20.



  • What confession did Saul make? 1 Samuel 26:21. What was the character of Saul’s confession?

Note: “The enmity that is cherished toward the servants of God by those who have yielded to the power of Satan changes at times to a feeling of reconciliation and favor, but the change does not always prove to be lasting. After evil-minded men have engaged in doing and saying wicked things against the Lord’s servants, the conviction that they have been in the wrong sometimes takes deep hold upon their minds. The Spirit of the Lord strives with them, and they humble their hearts before God, and before those whose influence they have sought to destroy, and they may change their course toward them. But as they again open the door to the suggestions of the evil one, the old doubts are revived, the old enmity is awakened, and they return to engage in the same work which they repented of, and for a time abandoned. Again they speak evil, accusing and condemning in the bitterest manner the very ones to whom they made most humble confession. Satan can use such souls with far greater power after such a course has been pursued than he could before, because they have sinned against greater light.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 662, 663.

  • How did Saul respond to David’s mercy? 1 Samuel 26:23–25.

 Note: “The second instance of David’s respect for his sovereign’s life made a still deeper impression upon the mind of Saul and brought from him a more humble acknowledgment of his fault. He was astonished and subdued at the manifestation of such kindness. In parting from David, Saul exclaimed, ‘Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail’ (1 Samuel 26:25). But the son of Jesse had no hope that the king would long continue in this frame of mind.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 671, 672.

“[Saul] listened to every false witness, eagerly receiving anything that was detrimental to the character of David, hoping that he might find an excuse for manifesting his increasing envy and hatred of him who had been anointed to the throne of Israel. Every rumor was credited, no matter how inconsistent and irreconcilable it was with the former character and custom of David.

“Every evidence that the protecting care of God was over David seemed to imbitter and deepen his one engrossing and determined purpose. The failure to accomplish his own designs appeared in marked contrast to the success of the fugitive in eluding his search, but it only made the determination of the king the more unrelenting and firm. He was not careful to conceal his designs toward David, nor scrupulous as to what means should be employed in accomplishing his purpose.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1019.



  • What was the effect of envy in Saul’s life? Proverbs 14:30, last part; 27:4.

 Note: “It was envy that made Saul miserable and put the humble subject of his throne in jeopardy. What untold mischief has this evil trait of character worked in our world! … Envy is the offspring of pride, and if it is entertained in the heart, it will lead to hatred, and eventually to revenge and murder. Satan displayed his own character in exciting the fury of Saul against him who had never done him harm.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 651.

  • What other character trait was treacherous to Saul and many others? John 12:43.

Note: “One great defect in the character of Saul was his love of approbation. This trait had had a controlling influence over his actions and thoughts; everything was marked by his desire for praise and self-exaltation. His standard of right and wrong was the low standard of popular applause. No man is safe who lives that he may please men, and does not seek first for the approbation of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 650.



  • What warning from Scripture should cause every God-fearing soul to beware? Proverbs 26:24–27.

Note: “It was not the man David, who had done him no harm, against whom the king was contending. He was in controversy with the King of heaven; for when Satan is permitted to control the mind that will not be ruled by Jehovah, he will lead it according to his will, until the man who is thus in his power becomes an efficient agent to carry out his designs. So bitter is the enmity of the great originator of sin against the purposes of God, so terrible is his power for evil, that when men disconnect from God, Satan influences them, and their minds are brought more and more into subjection, until they cast off the fear of God, and the respect of men, and become bold and avowed enemies of God and of His people.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1019.

  • How can bitterness cherished in the heart affect anyone? Psalm 52:2–5; Isaiah 3:12, last part.

Note: “What an example was Saul giving to the subjects of his kingdom in his desperate, unprovoked persecution of David! What a record he was making to be placed upon the pages of history for future generations! He sought to turn the full tide of the power of his kingdom into the channel of his own hatred in hunting down an innocent man. All this had a demoralizing influence upon Israel. And while Saul was giving loose reign to his passion, Satan was weaving a snare to compass his ruin, and the ruin of his kingdom. While the king and his councilors were planning for the capture of David, the affairs of the nation were being mismanaged and neglected. While imaginary foes were constantly presented before the minds of the people, the real enemies were strengthening themselves without arousing suspicion or alarm. By following the dictates of Satan, Saul was himself hastening the very result which, with unsanctified ability, he was endeavoring to avert.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, 1019.



  • When Saul was deceived by spiritualism, what message goaded him to final despair? 1 Samuel 28:5–8, 14–20. How is this a warning to any believer or church laced with hypnotism or similar trends?

Note: “All through his course of rebellion Saul had been flattered and deceived by Satan. It is the tempter’s work to belittle sin, to make the path of transgression easy and inviting, to blind the mind to the warnings and threatenings of the Lord. Satan, by his bewitching power, had led Saul to justify himself in defiance of Samuel’s reproofs and warning. But now, in his extremity, he turned upon him, presenting the enormity of his sin and the hopelessness of pardon, that he might goad him to desperation. Nothing could have been better chosen to destroy his courage and confuse his judgment, or to drive him to despair and self-destruction.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 680, 681.

  • In contrast to Saul, how can we be inspired by the attitude of David in the wilderness, even during his most disheartening times? Psalms 27:1–3; 59:1–3, 17; 142:1–7.

Note: “David composed many of the Psalm in the wilderness, to which he was compelled to flee for safety. … While David was thus passing through severe trials and hardships, he manifested an unwavering trust in God, and was especially imbued with his Spirit, as he composed his songs which recount his dangers and deliverances, ascribing praise and glory to God, his merciful preserver. In these Psalm is seen a spirit of fervor, devotion and holiness.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 93.

“You need not be surprised if everything in the journey heavenward is not pleasant. There is no use in looking to our own defects. Looking unto Jesus, the darkness passes away, and the true light shineth. Go forth daily, expressing the prayer of David, ‘Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not’ (Psalm 17:5). All the paths of life are beset with peril, but we are safe if we follow where the Master leads the way, trusting the One whose voice we hear saying, ‘Follow Me.’ ”  “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1143.



1     How did David recompense Saul’s evil with good?

2    Explain why envy is such a dangerous trait.

3    How can love of self-approbation lead to envy?

4    Describe the method Satan used to obliterate any last trace of hope in Saul.

5    How can we be encouraged by David’s psalms composed in moments of trial?

Prophets of Doom

Samuel had died and had been buried, and now the Philistines had come up to attack Israel. In I Samuel 28:5, it says that Saul was terrified. Fear is part of the devil’s program. The devil has three objectives, three ways to try to destroy. First, he wants to seduce you through sensual temptations. If that doesn’t work, then he reverts to deception to involve you in his counterfeit for faith—presumption. If these two attempts don’t succeed, his third method is to endeavor to terrify you.

Interestingly, when you study the three temptations of Jesus on the mount of temptations, this is the exact order that the devil followed with Christ. First he tried to seduce Him with a sensual temptation. Then he tried to get Him to practice presumption, and finally he tried to terrify Him by implying that He need not go through the suffering of the cross. The whole world was offered to Jesus if he would just worship him. Suffering, of course, is something that terrifies people. The devil tried this on Jesus to no avail; however, he is more successful when he comes to us.

In I Samuel 28, it says that Saul was terrified. Verse 6 says that “Saul asked from Jehovah, and Jehovah did not give him an answer, either by dreams, by Urim, or by prophets.” God would not answer him, so Saul became desperate. Unfortunately, there are Adventists today who are desperate and want to know the answers to certain questions, and God hasn’t answered them.

In the book, The Great Controversy, in the chapter, “The Snares of Satan,” Ellen White said that it was one of the devil’s masterful temptations to get men to ask questions that God would not answer, even through eternal ages. People get so desperate to know the answer to a certain question that God hasn’t revealed that they try to find out the answer from somewhere else. That is precisely what Saul decided to do, so he told his servants to “find me a woman that has a familiar spirit so I can go and have a séance and find this out, find out what I need to know. I need to know what to do about this battle that’s coming up.” I Samuel 28:7.

So he disguised himself and went to this witch at Endor and persuaded her to bring up for him the person that he should name. He asked to bring up Samuel, and so it says that she had a séance for him and brought up Samuel. And Samuel said, “Well, why did you bring me up?” Saul said, “Jehovah doesn’t answer me by any way I ask, and I just have to have this information.” In verses 17 and 18 and 19, it says that Samuel, in effect, told him off. He told him you haven’t listened to Jehovah. You didn’t do what He told you to do, and that’s the reason He doesn’t answer you. And not only that, the Lord has taken away the kingdom from you and he’s going to give it to your neighbor, David. Tomorrow the Lord is going to give you, and all of the armies of Israel, into the hands of the Philistines. And you are going to die tomorrow. You and your sons are going to be with me.

That sounds like a prophet of doom, and not a prophet of the Lord. It was the devil speaking; the devil and his agents are the prophets of doom. It was not God’s message. God’s message is a message of the everlasting gospel and the judgment, and you can read it in Revelation 14:6–12. God does say that if you will not listen to the warnings there are going to be some terrible consequences; however, the Three Angels’ Messages open up by saying that the angel that flies in the midst of heaven has the Everlasting Gospel. The word gospel means “Good News!”

God’s message is a message of good news. When a Seventh-day Adventist studies with somebody, they ought to find out some good news. The world has enough messages about hell and damnation and awful things, and desperately needs good news. The good news, friend, is that Jesus is coming, and He is going to get you out of this place and take you to a place where there is no more sickness. There is not going to be any war there, and there will not be any cemeteries either. There’ll be no death, and no more pain. It will be a wonderful place, and that is good news!

Friends, the Christian is duty-bound before God to give the people of this world the good news of the coming of Jesus and how to get ready for it. That is the reason we are here, and that is good news. Publicizing every awful thing that may happen will never win anybody; it will only cause panic and terror. The devil is already doing that, and he needs no help. He is flooding the world with messages of doom, and wants you to be terrified so that you will make irrational decisions and do things that are rash and reckless.

In I Samuel 28, every specification the devil made came true. The devil can often very accurately predict events that are going to happen in the near future because he has access to all kinds of information that you and I don’t have. However, just because it turns out to be true, it does not mean that the message was from the Lord. It could be the devil trying to get you terrified, so you go into a panic.

The devil’s purpose in this was to discourage Saul and bring everlasting ruin, which he succeeded in doing. Saul will not be in the kingdom of heaven. In fact, it says in 1 Chronicles, the 10th chapter, that God killed Saul because he went and sought counsel from a woman who had a familiar spirit. God’s message is good news. Our message is the gospel, which is good news, and the good news is that Jesus is coming. If people could just get a little idea of who Jesus is and what He is like, and the fact that He is coming soon, it would be the most exciting thing in the world. When Jesus came, He always brought peace and hope and joy.

We often concentrate on how awful it will be for the wicked when Jesus comes and that they are going to be destroyed with everlasting flames of fire when He comes. But look at what happens to the righteous: “When He comes to be glorified in His Holy people, or in His saints, and to be astonished at, or to be marveled at, by all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” 11 Thessalonians 1:10. Oh friend, when Jesus comes He’s going to be glorified, and we are going to be astonished at how wonderful it is. In the Bible, that is called “the blessed hope.” Titus 2:13.

If you are one of the saved, the coming of Jesus will be more exciting than any experience that you have ever had. If you accept Him as your Savior, He has the power to take away all the guilt of your sins, and to deliver you from the power of sin in your life and to restore you, to sanctify you, and make you ready for His coming. Is that good news?

“Every man is free to choose what power he will have to rule over him. None have fallen so low, none are so vile, but they can find deliverance in Christ.” The Desire of Ages, 258. Our message is a message of good news. We are not predictors of doom. There will not be any doomsday for the righteous; that is only for the wicked, those who have rejected the message of salvation that has been offered.

The devil’s message is: first, he wants to seduce you; if that doesn’t succeed, then he wants to deceive you, and if that doesn’t work, then he wants to terrify you. Now think about this for just a moment from the devil’s perspective. If you wanted to get somebody terrified, how would you do it? You would bombard them with messages predicting doom, and that is precisely what is happening today. God’s people are more bombarded with messages talking about doomsday now than ever, and these messages have even hit the public press.

Evangelical preachers predicting Armageddon, political collapse, economic collapse, and the end of the world gain strength in their predictions through publications and the media. Many are alarmed by the status of the stock market, yet there have been over twenty stock market crashes since 1800. The stock market has crashed over ten times since the year 1900. The stock market crashed in 1973 and 1974, and it lasted over a year. Stocks decreased 45%.

People at present are scared to death that we are in a financial crisis, but the big question is, how should you react to the crisis we are in?

The first time I can remember that the public press was predicting a major stock market crash was in 1953. All the time I was growing up we’ve had all kinds of predictions of doom. When I was in high school in the United States, a Roman Catholic president was elected, which was the first time a Roman Catholic president had been elected in this country. When my mother was young, it was believed that a Roman Catholic would never be elected as president of the United States, with over 60% of the United States of America being Protestant. But we did, and that very next year, in 1961, the Supreme Court made a ruling that Sunday laws would become constitutional.

The prediction of something awful is not really the point, but how you react to it is what matters. I was just a young man at that time at the Seventh-day Adventist high school. I told my father that the people at the high school had told me that I would never get through college, that there would be Sunday laws and everything would close up. I reasoned that if I would not be able to finish college, what would be the point in even starting, and that I may as well just forget it. My father advised that if I intended to be a minister, I would need to be trained, and if Jesus came before I was trained, it would not be held against me, so I pursued my education.

While I was going to school, there was the Cuban Missile crisis, and for about 48 hours we were afraid that we were going to be in a nuclear war. Then we had the escalation of Vietnam. After that was the break-down of law and order in 1967 and 1968, and the reaction to the Vietnam War. Then in 1970 and 1971, President Nixon took us off the gold standard, and that began an interesting series of events which caused a double digit inflation. We had high unemployment. We were trying to conserve oil. People were afraid. The talk all over the Adventist community of Loma Linda at that time in 1973 and 1974 was that the Sunday laws would be passed to try to conserve oil by people not driving their cars on Sunday.

Between 1980 and 1982, we had a chairman of the Federal Reserve who decided that we had had enough of this high double-digit inflation. and decided that the problem could be cured by increasing the interest rate way up to around 14%. In the early ’80s you could get 14 to 16% interest on bonds, and that was an interesting time to go through. Right at that time, my wife and I received an invitation to go teach at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas. At the time, we were living in Washington State, so we needed to sell our house. With interest rates up at 10 to 12% not many people would qualify for a loan, and we were advised by a realtor that we would have to sell on contract because of the high interest. Some people started getting adjustable rate mortgages at that time.

We were able to sell our house on contract, but during that time, 1979, I had a friend who was a Seventh-day Adventist who came and told me that he was not going to plant his garden that year. This man owned a rototiller and for extra money used to till gardens for other people. He decided not to grow his own garden because he believed the Lord was going to come that October, which was only three months away. His belief stemmed from a new interpretation of Daniel 11, and those who could not see it were considered in a Laodicean condition. This belief just about split the church. That October in 1979 came and the world did not come to an end. Awful things were supposed to happen in 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2007, and April 2008. Many Adventists believed that the world was supposed to come to an end before the end of 2007.

What effect do all these prophets of doom have on God’s people? Many of God’s people become disheartened and discouraged. Friends, we should not be dwelling on all the awful things that are going to happen at the end of the world. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and what He’s going to do for His people at the end of the world. It is the devil’s business to get God’s people discouraged, and the way he does it is by sending you a constant barrage of predictions of doom. The doom either doesn’t happen at all, or it doesn’t happen the way it was predicted, so another twist and a new date is put on it.

“Look to the earth and behold distress, and trouble, gloom, and darkness. And they will be driven to darkness.” Isaiah 8:22. Is that the kind of experience you want as we approach the end of the world; distress, trouble, and gloom? Isaiah prophesied 2700 years ago, that is what they are going to do. To be driven to darkness is the devil’s program and, unfortunately, it is being very successful with God’s people.

This is what the Lord wants you to do. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, because I am God and there is not any other.” You can’t save yourself, but if you look to God, you will be saved. The devil says look to the earth. Look at the distress. Look at the trouble. Look at all the awful things going on.

If more time is spent by God’s people reading about all the trouble that is predicted to come in the world than on reading their Bibles, is it any wonder that they are discouraged and depressed? It is exactly what Isaiah said would happen, in Isaiah 8:22. They look to the earth. There is distress. There is trouble. There is darkness, and what happens? They are driven to darkness.

Many young people have left the Seventh-day Adventist Church because they have heard so many failed predictions that they have no confidence in Adventism. This is a stated fact. Some have heard it predicted that Christ would come before 1997 or before 1996, or before 1994, or for sure before 2000. They have heard the prediction that the whole world has to come to an end before the end of 2007, and numerous other things predicted, of which 50 to 75% of them have not come true. Some of them, of course, do come true because if you make enough predictions of doom you will hit it once in a while because this world is a bad place. However, the young people in the Adventist church have heard so much of this and seen so many failed predictions that they have lost confidence.

Some young people become passive and careless. They have heard so many predictions of doom that they say, “Who cares? I can’t do anything about it anyway. So I’m just going to live my life.” They become passive, careless, and indifferent.

For an example regarding this current stock market crash, some young people have said to me that they cannot do anything about it. What am I supposed to do? There’s nothing I can do about it.

If somebody is continually given a barrage of bad news of all the terrible things that are happening, but they can’t do anything about it, the effect is that they become passive, and they say, “So what!” This has become a problem in larger society.

In 1964 a lady was stabbed to death in New York, she screamed for help, but nobody came to help her, even though, when it was investigated, the neighbors had heard the screams. This situation is shocking, that no one would go to her aid, but people have been desensitized to others’ needs.

Here is how it happens. Television and radio are constantly bombarding the people with sensational news, most of it bad. The more sensational the programs, the more audience they get; the more audience they have, the more advertisers they get and the more profits they make, and so the cycle continues. The result is that people are bombarded with sensationalism so that reality loses its significance, and the end result is that you have a population who consider that there is nothing they can do about it and are so passive that they can even hear someone being murdered and not be stirred to help. We are living in the most passive generation that has ever been, and it has negatively affected our young people.

Many are so scared with the situation in the world economically and politically that they have decided to find security and safety in the caves or in the mountains. This is happening all over the world, not just in the United States. Some people who are already living in country areas are getting out into the mountains in places so deserted that a four-wheel drive vehicle is required to get there. These places are usually quite affordable because they are so isolated, but if everyone did buy a place in an isolated place that it took hours to get to, who would be left to take the messages of the three angels to the world?

If you lived in the mountains in Colorado and most of the people live in the city of Denver, that is where you should be concentrating your effort: Denver. That is where most of the people live in the whole state. If you’re going to get your message to California, where do you need to concentrate your efforts? You need to concentrate your efforts in the Los Angeles area and in the San Francisco Bay area because that is where most of the population is.

Now I’m not saying that everybody needs to live in the middle of Los Angeles, but we do need to be somewhere that we can be of use and work. We have a message to get to the world, and we have such a barrage of prophecies of doom hitting God’s people from every direction day and night, almost seven days a week. People are so scared, they are so terrified, that instead of getting the message to the world, they don’t even want the book, The Great Controversy being distributed because they’re scared it will stir up trouble. People are scared and want to protect themselves, instead of getting the message to the world.

This reminds me of the story of Elijah in I Kings 19:9, 10. God gave him a message too, and where did God find him? He was in a cave, just where a lot of Adventists are—in a cave. So the Lord comes to him and He says, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” You know, the Lord needs to ask that question to some Adventists: What are you doing here? “Oh, Lord, I’ve been very zealous for your name and the children of Israel, they’ve broken down your altars, they’ve killed your prophets until I’m the only one who is left, and they are seeking my soul to take it away.” The Lord said to him again, “What are you doing here? What are you doing here?” Verse 13.

Don’t misunderstand; there will be a time to flee to the caves, but not until we have the Three Angels’ Messages to all the world. Our job right now is to ask the Lord, “Lord, how do you want me to relate to getting your message to the entire world? What do you want me to do? What is my part?” There is work for the retired to do also. Now some people think that when you retire you quit working, but let me tell you something. God doesn’t ever retire His people. God never retires His servants. God uses His servants as long as they live. He used the apostle Paul, and some of the most powerful books in the New Testament were written when the apostle Paul was in prison, such as Ephesians. And the book of Revelation was written when John the revelator was exiled on Patmos, and he was very, very old at that time. The Lord did not say, Well, you poor fellow, you’ve reached over sixty-five, so you can’t work for Me anymore. The Lord does not work that way. That is the way man works, but the Lord uses His people even after they get old. If your brain works and if you’re alive, God can use you if you surrender yourself to Him and say, Lord, what do You want me to do? The Lord will give you something to do. There are some who win more people to the Lord after they are retired than they won their whole life, so don’t be discouraged if you’re retired and you think you would just like to encourage one soul to Jesus. You can; the Lord might use you to raise up a whole church. Ask Him to teach you what you should do. Don’t just go off and run into a cave where you can’t work; you won’t raise up a church in a cave. No matter how bad it gets in this world, you and I are going to be here until we take the Three Angels’ Messages to all the world. Many of God’s people are trying to seek security and safety instead of taking the Three Angels’ Messages to the world.

Since a number of young people are passive and don’t even have confidence in Adventism anymore, and a lot of the older people are seeking safety and security in the mountains or the caves or somewhere, what is the net result? The net result is that the cities are neglected by the very people whom God has appointed to take to them the Three Angels’ Messages.

Hundreds of thousands of people die every day in our world who have never heard the Three Angels’ Messages. Some of them don’t even know anything about Christianity. The cities are neglected by the very people whom God has appointed to take them the message of hope. We are not going to get out of this world until we take the Three Angels’ Messages to all the world.

The sad part of it is that if you and I don’t do it, God is going to have somebody else do it. Ellen White says in the book Notebook Leaflets that God can finish His work with heathen princes if He needs to. God does not need the General Conference or the historic Adventists to finish His work. He does not need any of us. We need Him. We need to be involved in finishing His work because that is a part of the way He works out the plan of salvation in our own lives, but He does not need us. If we don’t do God’s work, the Lord can do it with somebody else.

When asked by the priests why He did not tell the children to quit crying out, Jesus said that if these children are silent, the stones will cry out, the rocks will cry out. Well, if the rocks cry out, God’s work will get finished all right, but then you and I will lose the blessing we should have had. Friend, you don’t want that to happen.

Let me just ask you this question in closing for you to think about. Where is the safest place on earth that you can be? A few years ago there was a couple who were retired, and they looked the whole world over to try to find the best, safest, most secure, nicest place they could go to retire, and they found it. The place they chose where they thought it would be the best place to go was the Falkland Islands. They moved there in 1980, and in 1981 war broke out in the very place where they thought it would be the safest, most secure place in the world.

You and I don’t know what is safe. The safest place for you in the world is the place where God wants you to be.

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4.

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

Bible Study Guides – King David

August 9, 2015 – August 15, 2015

Key Text

“The Lord said unto Samuel, … I have provided me a king among [Jesse’s] sons.” I Samuel 16:1.

Study Help: Conflict and Courage, 160.


“No outward beauty can recommend the soul to God. The wisdom and excellence revealed in the character and deportment express the true beauty of the man; and it is the inner worth, the excellency of the heart, that determines our acceptance with the Lord of hosts.” Conflict and Courage, 160.


  • What lesson did God want to teach Samuel when a replacement was needed for the rejected King Saul? I Samuel 16:7, second half.
  • What providential event enabled David to gain experience in royal court life prior to his coronation? I Samuel 16:17–21. Why did God give him this experience?

Note: “In the providence of God, David, as a skillful performer upon the harp, was brought before the king. …

“He [David] had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he now set his heart more fully to do the will of God than ever before. He had new themes for thought. He had been in the court of the king and had seen the responsibilities of royalty. He had discovered some of the temptations that beset the soul of Saul and had penetrated some of the mysteries in the character and dealings of Israel’s first king. …

“God was teaching David lessons of trust. As Moses was trained for his work, so the Lord was fitting the son of Jesse to become the guide of His chosen people.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 643, 644.


  • How did God inspire David to meet Goliath’s challenge against Israel? I Samuel 17:23, 24, 37, 45–49. What can we learn from this experience in our own efforts to evangelize the world today?

Note: “Our ministers should not defy and provoke discussion. … They [some ministers] have not, like humble David, trusted in the God of Israel, and made Him their strength. They have gone forth confident and boastful, like Goliath, magnifying themselves and not hiding behind Jesus. …

“Young preachers should study the practical teachings of Christ as well as the theoretical, and learn of Jesus, that they may have His grace, His meekness, His humility and lowliness of mind.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 219, 220.

  • When and how did Saul begin to reveal one of the weakest points in his character? I Samuel 18:6–9.

Note: “No man is safe who lives that he may please men, and does not seek first for the approbation of God. It was the ambition of Saul to be first in the estimation of men; and when this song of praise was sung, a settled conviction entered the mind of the king that David would obtain the hearts of the people and reign in his stead.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 650.

  • What incidents show that Saul was now controlled by an evil spirit? I Samuel 19:11, 17; 20:27–31.

Note: “Saul opened his heart to the spirit of jealousy by which his soul was poisoned. … The monarch of Israel was opposing his will to the will of the Infinite One. Saul had not learned, while ruling the kingdom of Israel, that he should rule his own spirit. He allowed his impulses to control his judgment, until he was plunged into a fury of passion. He had paroxysms of rage, when he was ready to take the life of any who dared oppose his will.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 650.


  • What were some of the various places David looked to for refuge after he realized his life was in danger? I Samuel 21:1, 10; 22:1. Was his fear justified? I Samuel 22:16–18, 20, 21. Should he have feared Saul at all? I John 4:18.

Note: “Every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith. When shadows encompass the soul, when we want light and guidance, we must look up; there is light beyond the darkness. David ought not to have distrusted God for one moment.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 657.

  • In fleeing from his father-in-law, King Saul, what acts of dishonesty demonstrated David’s lack of faith in God’s protection? I Samuel 21:2, 8, 13–15.

Note: “David told the priest that he had been sent by the king on a secret errand, one which required the utmost expedition. Here he manifested a want of faith in God, and his sin resulted in causing the death of the high priest. Had the facts been plainly stated, Ahimelech would have known what course to pursue to preserve his life. God requires that truthfulness shall mark His people, even in the greatest peril.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 656.

  • Though we should never unnecessarily bring persecution upon ourselves, how may David’s experience be repeated in our own day? Matthew 10:22, 23.

Note: “Between righteousness and sin, love and hatred, truth and falsehood, there is an irrepressible conflict. When one presents the love of Christ and the beauty of holiness, he is drawing away the subjects of Satan’s kingdom, and the prince of evil is aroused to resist it. Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle—the spirit that underlies it—is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord ever since the days of Abel.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 29.


  • In what way did the local people of Ziph offer to betray David and his men? What happened to disrupt their plan? I Samuel 23:19, 20, 25–28.
  • When Saul, after driving out the Philistines, returned to pursue David, how did David demonstrate his magnanimity? I Samuel 24:1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 15. What was Saul’s response? I Samuel 24:16–20.

Note: “[I Samuel 24:9–11 quoted.]

“When Saul heard the words of David he was humbled, and could not but admit their truthfulness. His feelings were deeply moved as he realized how completely he had been in the power of the man whose life he sought. David stood before him in conscious innocence. …

“The enmity that is cherished toward the servants of God by those who have yielded to the power of Satan changes at times to a feeling of reconciliation and favor, but the change does not always prove to be lasting. After evil-minded men have engaged in doing and saying wicked things against the Lord’s servants, the conviction that they have been in the wrong sometimes takes deep hold upon their minds. The Spirit of the Lord strives with them, and they humble their hearts before God, and before those whose influence they have sought to destroy, and they may change their course toward them. But as they again open the door to the suggestions of the evil one, the old doubts are revived, the old enmity is awakened, and they return to engage in the same work which they repented of, and for a time abandoned.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 662, 663.

  • In preaching the gospel today, what lessons should the soldiers of the cross learn from the magnanimity of David? Romans 12:17–21.

Note: “God works out His plans, though to human eyes they are veiled in mystery. Men cannot understand the ways of God; and, looking at appearances, they interpret the trials and tests and provings that God permits to come upon them as things that are against them, and that will only work their ruin.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 672.


  • What continued fault did David manifest after he spared Saul’s life a second time? I Samuel 27:1.

Note: “God was dishonored by David’s unbelief. The Philistines had feared David more than they had feared Saul and his armies; and by placing himself under the protection of the Philistines, David discovered to them the weakness of his own people. … By this act he gave [his brethren] occasion for misconstruing his motives, and many were led to hold prejudice against him. The very thing that Satan desired to have him do he was led to do; for, in seeking refuge among the Philistines, David caused great exultation to the enemies of God and His people. David did not renounce his worship of God nor cease his devotion to His cause; but he sacrificed his trust in Him to his personal safety, and thus tarnished the upright and faithful character that God requires His servants to possess.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 672, 673.

  • How patiently do we have to struggle, with many hours spent on our knees, when we are working for the restoration of those who have become the enemies of the truth? Hebrews 12:3, 12–14.

Note: “Then let us take heed lest we deal with the erring in a way that would say to others that we have no need of redemption. Let us not denounce, condemn, and destroy as though we were faultless. It is the work of Christ to mend, to heal, to restore.” In Heavenly Places, 291.


1 Why was David put providentially in the court of Saul?

2 What was one of the weakest points in the character of Saul, and when did he begin to reveal it?

3 What warning of Jesus should come to our mind when we think of the persecution suffered by David?

4 Why did not David believe Saul’s confession at Engedi?

5 What lessons should the soldiers of the cross learn from the magnanimity of David?

© 2014 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – The First King of Israel

August 2, 2015 – August 8, 2015

Key Text

“All the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the Lord.” I Samuel 11:15.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 607–636.


“Through the prophet Samuel the Lord instructed Saul that as king of Israel his course of action must be one of strictest integrity.” Conflict and Courage, 174.


  • Despite his clear rebuke to the children of Israel for choosing a monarchy, what were the last words of Samuel’s speech? I Samuel 12:20, 25.

Note: “Samuel did not leave the people in a state of discouragement, for this would have prevented all effort for a better life.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 615.

  • Though God was not pleased that the children of Israel chose a monarchy (Hosea 13:11), why did He set a king over them? I Samuel 12:13; Ezekiel 14:4. In what sense were they blind by their own sins?

Note: “The days of Israel’s greatest prosperity had been those in which they acknowledged Jehovah as their King—when the laws and the government which He had established were regarded as superior to those of all other nations. … But by departing from God’s law the Hebrews had failed to become the people that God desired to make them, and then all the evils which were the result of their own sin and folly they charged upon the government of God. So completely had they become blinded by sin.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 605.


  • What promised blessing was brought repeatedly to the attention of the chosen people since the days of Moses? Deuteronomy 7:6, 11, 14, 18.

Note: “The purpose which God seeks to accomplish through His people today is the same that He desired to accomplish through Israel when He brought them forth out of Egypt. By beholding the goodness, the mercy, the justice, and the love of God revealed in the church, the world is to have a representation of His character. And when the law of God is thus exemplified in the life, even the world will recognize the superiority of those who love and fear and serve God above every other people on the earth. The Lord has His eye upon every one of His people; He has His plans concerning each. It is His purpose that those who practice His holy precepts shall be a distinguished people.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 12.

  • How were the Israelites unqualified to evangelize the Gentiles during the time of the judges? I Chronicles 5:25.

Note: “Fathers and mothers in Israel became indifferent to their obligation to God, indifferent to their obligation to their children. Through unfaithfulness in the home, and idolatrous influences without, many of the Hebrew youth received an education differing widely from that which God had planned for them. They learned the ways of the heathen.” Education, 45, 46.

  • Though Israel’s form of government changed, how did Samuel warn his generation of God’s purpose for them to be a light to the Gentiles? I Samuel 12:15.

Note: “The discipline and training that God appointed for Israel would cause them, in all their ways of life, to differ from the people of other nations. This peculiarity, … was to them unwelcome.” Education, 49.


  • What shows that the Israelites despised the privilege of being a peculiar nation? I Samuel 8:20.

Note: “God had separated the Israelites from every other people, to make them His own peculiar treasure. But they, disregarding this high honor, eagerly desired to imitate the example of the heathen! And still the longing to conform to worldly practices and customs exists among the professed people of God. As they depart from the Lord they become ambitious for the gains and honors of the world.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 607.

  • How are God’s people today warned against repeating the error of the Jews? I Peter 2:9; II Corinthians 6:17, 18.

Note: “Christians are constantly seeking to imitate the practices of those who worship the god of this world. Many urge that by uniting with worldlings and conforming to their customs they might exert a stronger influence over the ungodly. But all who pursue this course thereby separate from the Source of their strength. Becoming the friends of the world, they are the enemies of God. For the sake of earthly distinction they sacrifice the unspeakable honor to which God has called them, of showing forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9).” Patriarchs and Prophets, 607.

  • Against what danger will faithful servants of God continually warn their congregation? James 4:4; I John 2:15, 16.

Note: “Jesus is coming; and will He find a people conformed to the world? and will He acknowledge these as His people that He has purified unto Himself? Oh, no. None but the pure and holy will He acknowledge as His. Those who have been purified and made white through suffering, and have kept themselves separate, unspotted from the world, He will own as His.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 133.


  • What happened when the Israelites tried to secure peace with the invading Ammonites? I Samuel 11:1–4, 8, 11. Instead of trusting in the Lord when put to the test, what sin did Saul commit? I Samuel 13:5–13. Nevertheless, how did God still help the Israelites? I Samuel 14:31.

Note: “The time for the proving of Saul had come. He was now to show whether or not he would depend on God and patiently wait according to His command, thus revealing himself as one whom God could trust in trying places as the ruler of His people, or whether he would be vacillating and unworthy of the sacred responsibility that had devolved upon him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 618.

  • How did Saul show presumption for the second time and also self-exaltation? I Samuel 14:24–29, 43–45.

Note: “Even at the sacrifice of his [Saul’s] son, he would impress upon his subjects the fact that the royal authority must be maintained. … When his own command was disobeyed—though the command was unreasonable and had been violated through ignorance—the king and father sentenced his son to death. The people refused to allow the sentence to be executed.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 625.

  • What lessons should we, and especially the ministers and workers, learn from the mistakes of King Saul? Matthew 7:2.

Note: “Those who are most ready to excuse or justify themselves in sin are often most severe in judging and condemning others. Many, like Saul, bring upon themselves the displeasure of God, but they reject counsel and despise reproof. Even when convinced that the Lord is not with them, they refuse to see in themselves the cause of their trouble. They cherish a proud, boastful spirit, while they indulge in cruel judgment or severe rebuke of others who are better than they.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 625.


  • When tested again, how did Saul show that kingly authority and honor were more important to him than obedience to the command of God? I Samuel 15:1–3, 7–9, 20, 21.
  • Why did God, finally, have to reject King Saul? I Samuel 15:22–24.

Note: “It is a perilous step to slight the reproofs and warnings of God’s word or of His Spirit. Many, like Saul, yield to temptation until they become blind to the true character of sin. They flatter themselves that they have had some good object in view, and have done no wrong in departing from the Lord’s requirements. Thus they do despite to the Spirit of grace, until its voice is no longer heard, and they are left to the delusions which they have chosen.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 635.

“When Saul chose to act independently of God, the Lord could no longer be his guide, and was forced to set him aside.” Ibid., 636.

  • After the Spirit of God departed from the king, where did Saul try to find help? I Samuel 16:14; 28:6, 7; Isaiah 8:19.

Note: “All through his course of rebellion Saul had been flattered and deceived by Satan.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 680.


1 What warning did Samuel give Israel at the coronation of Saul?

2 After the death of Samuel, how did the Israelites show they were disqualified for evangelizing the Gentiles?

3 How did the Israelites despise the privilege of being a peculiar nation?

4 How are we warned against a similar danger?

5 What lessons should all of us learn from the mistakes of King Saul?

© 2014 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Life Sketches – Kicking Against the Pricks

Sometimes people will experience a life-changing event that will completely turn their life upside down and they know that life as they knew it will never be the same again. Such events are described in the Bible, and there is a life-changing event that everyone must experience if they are going to have eternal life. However, not everybody experiences it in the same way.

The stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was a pivotal turning point in the history of the Christian church. Before that event, the apostles preached the gospel almost exclusively to the Jews. In fact, we do not have a record of the apostles preaching the gospel to non-Jews up until that time. But, after the stoning of Stephen, it is very clear in the book of Acts that the gospel then went to the Gentiles.

This opening of the gospel to the Gentiles met with severe opposition, for the Jews did not want the Christian church to exist. In fact, they set out to destroy it so that there would be no Christians left. One of the chief persecutors was a man by the name of Saul of Tarsus. The first mention in Scripture of this man is at the time of the stoning of Stephen. It says, “They (the Jews) cast him (Stephen) out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58). In Acts 8:1, first part, it says that “… Saul was consenting to his death.”

“Saul of Tarsus was present [at Stephen’s trial] and took a leading part against Stephen. He brought the weight of eloquence and the logic of the rabbis to bear upon the case, to convince the people that Stephen was preaching delusive and dangerous doctrines … .” The Acts of the Apostles, 98. “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:1, second part–3).

Saul tried to destroy the Christian church by putting Christians in prison and having the leaders killed to stop the spread of what he deemed to be a terrible so-called heresy. Now, Saul was greatly esteemed by the Jewish nation because of his zeal. He, a learned and zealous rabbi, had become a member of the Sanhedrin counsel. He was a mighty instrument in the hand of Satan, used to carry out the rebellion against the Son of God.

However, things would soon change. The very person who was the leading persecutor of the Christian church would become the leading Christian apologist, the leading Christian apostle and proponent of the Christian religion. This story is stranger than fiction. It is a story in which we see that there is Someone mightier than Satan, who had selected the very person who led the persecution of the Christian church to become the leader of the Christian religion. This man would later write more than half the books of the New Testament.

The Bible records Stephen’s death this way: “He, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) standing at the right hand of God’ ”(Acts 7:55, 56)! It says that, “all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).

Stephen died, but he did not die a defeated man. He died a conqueror. He said, “I see the heavens opened.” He said that he saw the Son of Man “standing at the right hand of the throne of God.” Saul and the Jewish leaders could not stand to hear that, for it was contrary to their beliefs, especially the Sadducees who taught that there was no such thing as a resurrection from the dead. When Saul witnessed this man’s faith, it shook him.

“The mind of Saul was greatly stirred by the triumphant death of Stephen. He was shaken in his prejudice; but the opinions and arguments of the priests and rulers finally convinced him that Stephen was a blasphemer; that Jesus Christ whom he preached was an imposter, and that those ministering in holy offices must be right.” The Story of Redemption, 268.

Saul was a man of decided mind and determined purpose and he became very bitter in his opposition to Christianity that he considered now to be a delusion. He had it entirely settled in his mind that the views of the priests and the scribes were right, and his zeal led him to voluntarily engage in persecuting the believers. He made havoc of the church, going everywhere, and putting men and women in prison. He caused the Christians to be dragged before judicial councils. Some were imprisoned and some were condemned to death without evidence of any offence, except the fact that they had faith in Jesus.

Having to travel to Damascus upon his own business, Saul decided that he would accomplish a double purpose. He would obtain letters from the high priest to be read in the synagogues that would authorize him to seize all who were suspected of being believers in Jesus and send them by messengers to Jerusalem, to be tried and punished. So he set out, as recorded in Acts 9:1, 2: “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way (Christians), whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

He set out on his way full of the vigor of manhood and the fire of a mistaken zeal that has possessed millions upon millions of men and women down through the ages. When you study history, you find very often the worst persecutors of all time have been those who believed that what they were doing was for the glory of God. The cry of persecutors for thousands of years has been, “We have to get rid of these people so that they won’t deceive the rest of the people in the world.”

Saul and his companions had to travel over a desolate, dry desert region to reach their destination. But as they neared Damascus, they looked upon the fertile land, beautiful gardens, fruitful orchards, and cool streams. It was a very refreshing scene on which to look after such a wearisome journey.

“As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’

“And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads [pricks].’ ” (Acts 9:3–5).

The scene was one of greatest confusion. The companions of Saul were stricken with terror, and almost blinded by the intensity of the light. They heard the voice, but they did not see anybody. To them it was all unintelligible and mysterious, but Saul, lying prostrate on the ground, understood exactly the words that were spoken. He saw before him a Being brighter than the light of the sun, and the image of that glorified Being was indelibly marked upon his mind, and His words struck home to his heart with appalling force. A flood of light poured into his darkened mind, revealing his ignorance and error. He saw that while he had imagined himself to be zealously serving God in persecuting the followers of Christ, he had actually been doing the work of Satan. He saw his folly in resting his faith upon the assurances of the priests and rulers.

Oh, friend, are you aware that there are millions of people today, who can give you no other reason for what they believe than that it was told them by some religious teacher? They have never checked in the Bible for themselves to find out if what they believe is true? Where is your faith? In the word of man, or the word of God?

Is your faith founded in an intelligent knowledge of the word of God, that you have studied and read for yourself, or is your faith just anchored in what somebody has said, or what some group of people have said? That was the problem with Saul. His faith had been in what the religious leaders had told him. His faith was in the religious leaders that he talked to himself. He thought that these “holy men” would not be wrong.

Millions of people through the ages have been misled by placing their faith in men that they called “holy,” that led them directly contrary to what the Bible says. Jesus, talking to the Jews about this very problem, said, “Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). They were reading a book about Jesus and when He was there they did not recognize Him.

These priests and rulers in sacred office had great influence over the mind of Saul, and they had caused him to believe that the story of the resurrection was an artful fabrication of the disciples of Jesus. But now, he had seen Jesus Christ Himself, a glorified being, brighter than the light of the sun. And then suddenly, the forcible sermon of Stephen was brought again to his mind. He now understood the truth of the dying words that Stephen had exclaimed and that the priests and rulers had said was blasphemy.

In those few moments of illumination, Saul’s mind reacted with remarkable rapidity. Your mind can work very rapidly in certain situations. Perhaps you have met people who just before a car accident, or before some other traumatic event, have later recalled, “My whole life history went before my mind.” It is an event like that which happened to Saul of Tarsus. He traced quickly through prophetic history and realized that in the Old Testament it was predicted that the Messiah would be rejected by the Jews. He knew those prophecies in Isaiah. He thought through the prophets of the Old Testament who had predicted the crucifixion of Jesus. He knew those prophecies in the Psalms.

He thought through the prophecies predicting the resurrection of Jesus. He also knew the prophecy in the Psalms that predicted the ascension of Jesus upon high, with a multitude of captives that had been freed from captivity. He saw that all this had been foretold by the prophets, and proved that Jesus Christ really was the Messiah. He remembered again the words of Stephen, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” And he knew then that the dying saint whose death to which he had consented had looked upon the kingdom of Glory. In a moment, the scales had been lifted from his eyes and now he understood.

What a revelation it was. It was light, clear but also terrible. Christ was revealed to him as having come to earth and having fulfilled his mission, being rejected, abused, condemned, and crucified by those that He came to save, but also as having risen from the dead, and having ascended into the heavens. In that terrible moment, Saul remembered that the holy man, Stephen, had been stoned with his consent. It was through his instrumentality that not only Stephen, but other Christians, had met their death by cruel persecution. “So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do’ ” (Acts 9:6, first part)? That is never a bad question to ask. “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do’ ” (verse 6, last part). Jesus had spoken to him. There was no doubt in his mind who this was. The person had identified Himself as Jesus. He said, “I’m Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” He knew now. He knew that this Jesus was the Messiah, that He was the One who had come to this world to save anyone who was willing to be saved from sin and give them the opportunity to have eternal life.

He was the Consolation, the Redeemer of Israel. While on earth, Jesus had often used parables and symbolic language to explain the truth to people. He also now used a familiar object to illustrate His meaning in talking to the man that became the apostle Paul. Jesus said to him, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.”

Those forcible words illustrate a truth that everyone in this world someday will know and understand. There are still millions of people in the world who are kicking against the pricks. They think that if they can get enough people to kick, and kick hard enough and long enough, they will be able to destroy the Christian religion and maybe all the Christians as well. Jesus’ words reveal the fact that it is hard for you to kick against the pricks of your own conscience.

There are many stories of people who were atheists, communists, socialists, of various non-Christian religions who had persecuted Christians and then become converted. There is the prick of seeing the effect of the Christian religion on human beings as no other religion can have and the prick of their own conscience.

The fact is that it is impossible for any man or for any group of men to stop the onward progress of the truth of Christ. The truth of Christ is going to march on to victory and triumph, and every effort by any man or any group of men to stop it, will simply result in injury to the opposer.

In the end, the persecutor will suffer far more than those whom he has persecuted, for, sooner or later, his own heart will condemn him for what he has done.

The Saviour, Jesus Christ, had spoken to Saul through His servant Stephen, whose clear reasoning from the Scriptures could not be controverted. The learned Jew had seen in the face of the martyr the reflected glory of Christ. “Everyone that saw Stephen, saw his face as if it were the face of an angel.” He had witnessed not only Stephen’s forbearance, but the forbearance of other Christians toward their enemies. He had witnessed their forgiveness of their persecutors. He had also witnessed the fortitude and cheerful resignation of other believers in Jesus while they had been tormented and afflicted and still others who had yielded up their lives as martyrs, rejoicing that they might give up their life for the truth’s sake.

All this testimony had appealed to Saul of Tarsus and had put conviction on his mind, causing him to struggle against it night and day. One reason some people become persecutors is because they are struggling against the conviction of their conscience, and to be free they fight those who bring the conviction. Saul’s education, his prejudices, his respect for priests and rulers and his pride of popularity had braced him to rebel against all the voice of his conscience and the grace of God.

He had believed that Christians were deluded fanatics, but now Jesus had spoken to him with His own voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

Oh, my friend, how is it with you? The way that you treat your fellow men is recorded in the books of heaven as the way you treat Jesus. Are you kicking against the pricks or are you ready to have a life-changing event that will turn you around 180 degrees and send you in the direction of eternal life?

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

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