Are You Serious About Being Saved?

When I was around twenty years old, as I studied The Great Controversy between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels, I realized that when I reach heaven, I will be associating with those who on this earth had developed a perfect character.

I thought hard about this because I didn’t yet have a perfect character, and I was not sure that I knew anyone else who did.

As I continued to study, I discovered that those who do not have a perfect character will not be in heaven. Jesus spoke of this condition to His disciples when He said, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25:29

It would be no exaggeration to say that I was in a state of alarm when I realized this. I had been baptized for ten years. I was looked upon as a good person. I was studying to be a minister, but I knew that my character had serious defects.

What Must I do?

So, what can be done to remove the terrible defects in our characters to make us fit for heaven?

“Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 331

If you decide that you cannot overcome your defects of character, then you will not be in heaven. This failure is perhaps one of the main reasons that a great majority of Adventists will fail of gaining entry to the kingdom of glory.

“In concluding this narrative, I would say that we are living in a most solemn time. In the last vision given me, I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved. Many will get above the simplicity of the work. They will conform to the world, cherish idols, and become spiritually dead. The humble, self-sacrificing followers of Jesus will pass on to perfection, leaving behind the indifferent and lovers of the world.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 608, 609

Did you notice that Mrs. White said in vision that only a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be saved? It is my intention, by the grace of God, to be a member of that number, and I pray it is your intention, too.

God does not tell us to do things and then leave us to struggle on our own. “All His biddings are enablings.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 333. Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5, last part. He also said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. How can He tell us to be perfect, unless He intends to give us the power to do it?

Writing to a husband who had some very serious character defects, Mrs. White said, “When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there.

“None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 705

Friend, we all have unlovely, unlovable, unChristlike traits of character. All these traits must be overcome if we are to go to heaven.

“In the state which you and your family are in at present, all heaven would be marred should you be introduced therein. The work for you must be done here. This earth is the fitting-up place. You have not one moment to lose.” Ibid., 706

There is no infinite amount of time to overcome these things, no second chances when the end of all things comes. For that reason, we have no time to lose. We must get down to it, putting all our commitment and determination into overcoming all the ugly defects that mar our characters.

“All is harmony, peace, and love in heaven. No discord, no strife, no censoring, no unloving words, no clouded brow, no jars there; and no one will be introduced there who possesses any of these elements so destructive to peace and happiness.” Ibid.

Oh, friend, how serious are you about being saved? Enough to ask the Lord to help you learn the lessons He seeks to daily teach us? God knows our characters and exactly what must be overcome if we are going to be in heaven. If we surrender, heart, soul, and body, everything to Him, if we seek to do His will, and to learn His lessons, even when they involve trials that we don’t like, then God will help us every step of the way. He is preparing a people for heaven, and He will not allow any soul to fail if they will commit to work with Him in perfecting their character.

God told Abraham, “ ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless [perfect].’ ” Genesis 17:1, last part

In 1 Corinthians 1:4–8, Paul speaks to the church in Corinth about being blameless when Jesus comes. In his letter to the Ephesians, he describes the condition of the church when Jesus comes the second time as, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27

Peter counsels the church to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:14, last part

The work of seeking perfection of character is as important as it gets. “Our first work is to become perfect in His sight, by living faith claiming His promise of forgiveness.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 19, 49

Perfection of character is to be our first work. Every soul must aim for it.

“Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor.” Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 1, 341

If a person lacks steadfastness in their commitment to develop perfection of character, they will not overcome the defects in their character. When they set their course and ask the Lord to help them, they will be astonished at the defects He will reveal to them, and He will show them what they must do to be changed.

Without a perfect character, we will not enter through the pearly gates for we will be unable to endure the presence of God. Mrs. White tells us that when Jesus comes, the wicked will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming, just as the Roman guard, who did not have perfect characters, fell powerless to the ground at Jesus’ resurrection.

“No unlikeness to Christ will be permitted in the holy city.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 15, 171. If the Lord were to take anyone to heaven with a defective character, heaven would be spoiled. In fact, the same rebellion we have down here in this world eventually would occur again, and the Bible says that affliction is not going to rise up the second time.

“Will God take to heaven, and into His own glorious presence, those who are living in open violation of one of the plainest precepts of the decalogue? No, no. It can never be that He will take those who are living in rebellion to His holy law to heaven, among pure angels who delight to do His will, and obey the laws of His righteous government, for there would be a second rebellion in heaven. The indignation of heaven is aroused at man’s open and daring rebellion against God’s holy law.” The Review and Herald, September 16, 1862

This inspired statement shows us just how important it is that we aim for perfection of character, making it our first work here and now. For no one who still harbors sin will enter heaven.

“ ‘For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch.’ ” Malachi 4:1

What is Perfection of Character?

The simplest definition of perfection of character is to be like Jesus Christ. However, it is impossible to be like Him, if we do not know Him. So the best way to know Him is to study His life.

Inspiration describes the characteristics of the person who has a perfect character in a number of passages. We’ll look at just a few of these.

A person with a perfect character

  1. Is always patient.
  2. Is pure in heart.
  3. Always has self-control.
  4. Does not exalt self.
  5. Is kind, tender-hearted, and refined.
  6. Will have the meekness of Christ.
  7. Is not half-hearted.
  8. Will manifest constant obedience to Jesus Christ.
  9. Will never be discourteous.
  10. Will have gentleness and forbearance, and his character will be manifest in his countenance.

The problem for us is that we do not have these characteristics. We must go to God and ask Him to help us, by His grace and power, to remedy the defects in our character. Praise God, He never tells us to do something without making it possible to do it. He stands behind every promise that He has made, and we can be assured that He will uphold them.

How is My Character Perfected?

We have found that having a perfect character is essential for we cannot go to heaven without it. We have determined what a perfect character looks like. Now we come to the most important part—how to obtain a perfect character.

For our characters to be made perfect, God must work a miracle in our lives. This miracle is available to every person in the world, but not all people are interested in, or serious about, being saved. They are happy with an easy religion that does not require obedience, sacrifice, or change of any kind.

I must be serious about being saved if I want to go to heaven. Time is running out and that makes the necessity of a perfected character a very scary proposition, because I have so much that needs to be changed. But regardless of how impossible it may look from a human standpoint, I can trust that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26).

So, what am I to do to become perfect? First, I must understand that it is through Jesus Christ alone that my defects are remedied and my character is made perfect.

Most people, even many Adventists, believe that your character has to do with your words and actions, and that is true. But have you ever considered that your words and actions are, in fact, an outward expression of what is already in your mind (Luke 6:45)? If we want our actions and words to be changed, then our minds and hearts must be changed first.

Let’s look at what we need to do to have a perfected character.

  1. Ephesians 4:1–6 tells me that I come to perfection of character through certain spiritual gifts that God has put in the church. Through these gifts, the church will come into harmony and unity, and into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Jesus Christ.
  2. I must receive Jesus into my heart as the Lord of my life, and I must believe that Jesus can, by His grace, take a person like me and make my character perfect.
  3. Perfection of character is a step-by-step process. It does not happen with a snap of the fingers and now I am perfect.

“There must be a lifelong, persevering, untiring effort, a fighting of the good fight of faith. The struggle is lifelong and the victory is certain.” The 1888 Ellen G. White Materials, 938

  1. I must be learning daily about Jesus.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

  1. I must be involved in the work God is doing in the world. I cannot be just a spectator.

“Place your entire dependence on the One who is able to keep the souls committed to His trust, able to imbue them with His Spirit, able to fill them with unselfish love for one another, thus enabling them to bear witness that He has sent His Son into the world to save sinners. …

“God’s servants have one common work. Their aim is to convert people to the pure truth of the word of God.” The Upward Look, 85

  1. I will have trials, disappointments, and tribulation. I must be willing to fight against my defects of character and overcome them. Only God can give me the victory, but I must be willing to fight.

“The Christian life is a life of constant conflict. It is a battle and a march. Every act of obedience, every deed of self-denial, every trial bravely endured, every temptation resisted, every victory gained, is a step forward in the march to eternal triumph.” Ye Shall Receive Power, 358

“All who enter heaven will do so as conquerors. You will have battles to fight; you will have difficulties to meet that can only be overcome by strong, determined resistance.” The Signs of the Times, May 5, 1887

“Under the Lord’s guidance, every sphere of action, every position in life, every disappointment, becomes the means of the development of Christian experience.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 7, 149

  1. I must strive for perfection of character.

“Strive, for the grasp of Satan is upon you; and if you do not wrench yourselves from Him, you will be palsied and ruined. … Strive, for there is a crown to be won. Strive, for if you win not the crown, you lose everything in this life and in the future life. Strive, but let it be in the strength of your risen Saviour.” The Review and Herald, August 21, 1888

  1. I must daily study the word of God, pray, and do good.

“The business of every Christian is to study the character of Christ.” That I May Know Him, 182

“By studying the life of Christ let the workers learn how He lived and worked. Let them strive each day to live His life.” Testimonies, Vol. 6, 416

“Jesus gave us a perfect pattern. Let us study it carefully, and as we study and pray, we shall come into close connection with heaven. Shall we not try harder to be like Jesus? Shall we not pray more? Shall we not make more earnest efforts for others?” The Review and Herald, March 16, 1886

  1. I must seek daily to remove the blemishes from my character. If my thoughts, words, actions, or feelings are unChristlike, then there is a blemish in my character that must be removed.

“Those who expect one day to stand before the throne of the God of gods and Lord of kings, … should seek daily to remove the blemishes in character that lead to sin, and bring into their lives the perfection of character that all must reveal who have a part in the kingdom of heaven.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 29, 1907

  1. I am to exercise mercy toward my fellow man.

“The exercise of mercy in our daily relations with one another is one of the most effective means of attaining perfection of character, for only those who walk with Christ can be truly merciful.” In Heavenly Places, 290

  1. Only through Christ alone can I achieve perfection of character.

“If you have an earnest desire to answer the claims that God has upon you, if your desire is to be connected with God, and to reach the highest round of the ladder of progress in the divine life, then, when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. But it is your own efforts, through the grace of Christ, that will bring you perfection of character.” The Signs of the Times, May 5, 1887

“Jesus is the perfect pattern … . He kept His Father’s statutes, precepts, and laws. He was continually seeking counsel of God, and was obedient to His will.

“It is the duty and privilege of every child to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.” Sons and Daughters of God, 128

  1. I must have a regard for the laws of nature.

“Perfection of character cannot be attained when the laws of nature are disregarded; for this is transgression of the law of God.” Our High Calling, 266

  1. I can attain perfection of character because it is attainable by everyone who strives for it.

“The word of God is full of consolation. It presents before us great possibilities and advantages, which all should appreciate. By a faithful improvement of these blessings we may rise to the highest standard of Christian excellence. The gospel influences those who receive it to attain to perfection. They are inspired with faith and hope, and become Christlike in character.” The Review and Herald, February 19, 1901

  1. I must be willing to be obedient to the truth.

“God requires perfection of character from His children. He demands that His law be remembered and meditated upon, that unswerving obedience be rendered to its requirements.” The Signs of the Times, March 4, 1897

“We can never attain perfection of character if we do not hear the voice of God and obey His counsel.” The Youth’s Instructor, January 13, 1898

  1. I will follow Peter’s ladder to perfection.

“For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. … Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” 2 Peter 1:5–7, 10

  1. I must repent and forsake my sins.

“ ‘While it is called today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.’ [Hebrews 3:15]. It may be you will never hear the invitation again. A mere answer in the affirmative is not sufficient. We are to repent and forsake every sin, and work the works of righteousness.” The General Conference Bulletin, October 1, 1899 [Author’s emphasis.]

  1. I must practice self-denial and self-sacrifice.

“Seek to deny yourself; be holy; let your mind dwell upon heaven, and let your conversation be there also.” Sons and Daughters of God, 89

“Human nature is ever struggling for expression, ready for contest; but he who learns of Christ is emptied of self, of pride, of love of supremacy, and there is silence in the soul. Self is yielded to the disposal of the Holy Spirit.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 15

“There is a world to be warned. To us has been entrusted this work. At any cost we must practice the truth. We are to stand as self-sacrificing minutemen, willing to suffer the loss of life itself, if need be, in the service of God.” The Review and Herald, January 31, 1907

  1. I must be willing to work hard.

“Perfection of character is a lifelong work, unattainable by those who are not willing to strive for it in God’s appointed way, by slow and toilsome steps.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, 500

  1. I must place every thought in subjection to Christ.

“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

  1. I must encourage unity in the church.

“Perfection of character means perfection in unity. ‘That they all may be one,’ Christ said, ‘as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee’ (John 17:21).” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 11, 179

“It is the unity of Christ’s followers that convinces the world that God has indeed sent His Son to die for sinners, to make them partakers of His perfection, changing the sinful heart, and forming the character after the divine likeness.” The Review and Herald, July 21, 1903

  1. I must constantly resist evil and cooperate with divinity.

“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:4

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

  1. I must stop criticizing.

“The one who criticizes another gives evidence that he is the very one who needs to criticize himself. Pray God to show you what you must remove from yourselves in order that you may see the kingdom of God.” Our High Calling, 233

  1. I must not only be beholding Jesus, I must talk of His love.

“Let us talk faith, talk courage. Let our lips utter the praise of the Lord. Behold Him, behold Him who is the Light of the world. Talk of His love, tell of His wonderful works.” The Upward Look, 289

  1. I must engage in hard, stern battles with self.

“A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 331

“This knowledge [the knowledge of God] is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation; and it is this alone that can make one like God in character. …

“None need fail of attaining, in his sphere, to perfection of Christian character. By the sacrifice of Christ, provision has been made for the believer to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ’s character. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through cooperation with Divinity, human beings may in this life attain to perfection of character. This is God’s assurance to us that we, too, may obtain complete victory.” The Acts of the Apostles, 530, 531

[Emphasis supplied.]

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

Editorial – Will Few Be Saved? (Luke 13:23)

Felix was convicted on the truth when the apostle Paul spoke to him of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come. Paul showed him that God’s law “extends to the deep secrets of man’s moral nature and throws a flood of light upon that which has been concealed from the sight and knowledge of men. … The law searches his thoughts, motives, and purposes. The dark passions that lie hidden from the sight of men, the jealousy, hatred, lust, and ambition, the evil deeds meditated upon in the dark recesses of the soul, yet never executed for want of opportunity—all these God’s law condemns.” The Acts of the Apostles, 424

“[Felix] saw himself licentious, cruel, rapacious. Never before had the truth been thus brought home to his heart. Never before had his soul been so filled with terror. The thought that all the secrets of his career of crime were open before the eye of God, and that he must be judged according to his deeds, caused him to tremble with dread.

“But instead of permitting his convictions to lead him to repentance, he sought to dismiss these unwelcome reflections. … ‘Go thy way for this time,’ he said; ‘when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.’ ” Ibid., 425, 426

That convenient season never came and you will not see Felix in the kingdom of heaven. Paul had plainly declared to him “that there would surely come a day of judgment when all would be rewarded according to the deeds done in the body … . He showed that this life is man’s time of preparation for the future life. Should he neglect present privileges and opportunities he would suffer an eternal loss; no new probation would be given him.” Ibid., 424

But Felix lost his golden opportunity. There have been multitudes of people in every generation who have planned to be saved, but they wanted to do something else first. “The first step taken in the path of unbelief and rejection of light is a dangerous thing … .” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 16, 226

“[I]f there is a neglect to follow the light, it becomes darkness.” Testimonies, Vol. 2, 263

“Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.” Steps to Christ, 48

Editorial – Look to Me and Be Saved

Even before Christ came to our world incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth, the Redeemer of this fallen world, it was God’s plan for His chosen people, the children of Israel, to take the message of salvation to all the world. The prophet wrote, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:7).

But we have an even more wonderful message than could be proclaimed in Old Testament times. We are to tell the world that our crucified and risen Saviour is now an all-powerful mediator seated upon a mediatorial throne in heaven, still giving audience to the people of this world.

The devil knows the almighty power that is in the message we bear to an apostate world. “Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. … Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth.” The Great Controversy, 488.

“Christ said. ‘Go, teach, bring into discipleship, all nations. Give them the knowledge of the truth of My gospel, which is founded on truth. Lead them to understand that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are heaven’s loving, powerful agencies for the accomplishment of the work of representing God in the world. Lo, I am with you in this work … . I will be with you and all who succeed you, till the end of time, in the work of preaching the gospel.’ ” Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, 15.

This explains why God’s people must be organized in order for God’s work to be done and finished in this world. “God has given the most sacred, solemn message of warning to His appointed agencies. … [They were to be] separate from the idolatrous nations that were deep in apostasy and idolatry, and present a character for excellence and entire obedience, teaching the highest standard of spirituality, far, far above all worldly policy and all idolatry.” Ibid., 188.

How to Be Among the 144,000, Part I

In this article, I want to look at how we can be among the 144,000. This is a very important topic for us to study because inspiration has told us that we should “strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand.” Review and Herald, March 9, 1905. Learning how we can be among this special group requires more than simply learning facts, we must ask for the Holy Spirit’s blessing on us if we are to truly grasp these vital truths.

I first want to consider these questions: Is there anything that we can do to be among the 144,000? What makes the 144,000 ready so that they can be translated when Jesus comes? (Only two people in all of earth’s six-thousand-year history have ever been translated. Our God in His wonderful mercy offers us a gift that even Jesus did not have, because He loved us so much that He died in our place. What a privilege to be living in this day and age.)

We will next search for answers to these questions: Are the characters of the 144,000 a gift from God or must their characters be developed? Does it come at a certain time, called the Sealing? Could this type of character development have happened before 1844, or is it reserved for a special group right at the end?

I would like to propose the idea (and we will study what the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy have to say about it) that the 144,000 go through a unique experience that no one else has gone through except Jesus. The character that they develop, however, is the character that God has wanted every Christian to develop throughout all of earth’s history. It is a character that all should have developed and that many did develop. The character of the 144,000 is not supposed to be unique.

In Hebrews 7, Paul wrote about Christ our High Priest. He said: “Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him since He ever lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25. It has always been Christ’s ministry to save to the uttermost (there is nothing beyond the uttermost) all who come to God through Him. God has ever wanted His people to develop a pure character. John wrote: “And every one who has this hope in him purifies himself just as He [Jesus] is pure.” 1 John 3:3.

It is impossible to be more pure than Jesus, and God wants everyone to have a purity that is like the purity of Jesus. That is good news! We can develop pure characters through Jesus Christ.

Why is it so important for us to understand this? Sister White gives us the answer: “Those who would be saints in heaven must first be saints upon the earth; for when we leave this earth, we shall take our character with us, and this will be simply taking with us some of the elements of heaven imparted to us through the righteousness of Christ.” The Review and Herald, August 19, 1890.

Is it only the 144,000 who take their characters with them to heaven? No, all “who would be saints in heaven must first be saints on earth.” The process of developing a pure character is not something that we are to wait to do for some time in the future. It is something that we are to engage in today, by the power that God has given us.

Power to Develop Christ-like Characters

What is this power? Can it help us to develop perfect characters like Christ’s? Or did Jesus have some special powers above and beyond what is available to us? The Desire of Ages, 664 says: “Jesus revealed no qualities and exercised no powers that man may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess.”

All the power that was available to Christ is available to each and every one of us, in order that we might develop pure characters like His. Every one since Adam, who has grown to maturity, could have developed that character. God has given us the privilege and ability today to develop that character, just as He did the people in all ages.

I believe there is a special work that is to be done after 1844. I believe with all my heart in the sealing. But there is a danger in any theology that teaches that there are some special powers for the development of character to be given in the future. This type of theology is a temptation to many to wait until “that time” for the character to be developed.

We have the only power today that will ever be given to us for character development. And this short life is the only day we will ever have for this work. Character cannot be given to someone—it must be developed. Character comes because of the free gift of God’s power that is given to us day by day, but it is something that must be developed. It is the work of a lifetime.

The 144,000 will go through a unique experience similar to what Christ endured in the Garden of Gethsemane. But Jesus’ character was developed before He came to the Garden of Gethesemane or He would never have been able to go through that experience.

Anyone who is waiting for some time in the future for their character to be developed, so that they can go through the time of trouble, will be sadly disappointed. It will never happen. They will be unprepared and they will not receive the latter rain, for it only falls on those who have purified their souls “from every defilement.” (Evangelism, 702.)

Three Theological Views

There are three views of theology that affect how we prepare for Jesus’ Second Coming. All three of these views are found in Christendom as well as in the Adventist Church.

The first major theological belief is that Jesus came in Adam’s unfallen nature. Those who believe this generally tend to say that Jesus was born with a different nature than we have, so therefore, we cannot overcome. And, since we cannot overcome, we do not have to overcome. We can just go on enjoying our life of sin, and as long as we believe in Jesus, we will be saved. But the Bible refutes these falsehoods. It says that only those who overcome as Jesus overcame will sit with Him on His throne. (See Revelation 3:21.)

There are many sincere people who believe each of these theologies. But sincerity does not change the effects of one’s belief. For many years people sincerely smoked cigarettes thinking that it was going to clear up their bronchitis. (It was prescribed for them by the doctors back at the turn of the century.) But their belief did not change the fact that many of them developed lung cancer. They may not have been held accountable, but it affected their life on earth. What we believe affects our salvation, and that is the reason why God would have us study and learn what is truth.

There is another group of people who also believe that Jesus came down in a human nature far different than we have. But they believe that although Jesus’ nature was different than ours, we must still live a life like He lived. They do not wish to throw out the verses in the Bible or the statements in the Spirit of Prophecy that say we must overcome, so they teach that we must live a life like Jesus, but that we have to be given the same unfallen nature that Jesus had in order to do this. This is called the Holy Flesh doctrine. It comes in many forms and species, but the essence of this doctrine is that God must come down and do the overcoming for us, because we cannot overcome anything in our fallen nature. It goes like this: as long as we “get out of the driver’s seat” and allow God to be the driver, and we do not get back in, God will drive us all the way through the pearly gates. As long as we spend some time with God every day, He will take care of the rest and He will overcome the sins in us, just the same as He did for Jesus who never really had any temptations!

I have talked to many Adventist preachers and others who believe this and they say, “Jesus was tempted in all points like we are, but He was never tempted to sin.” Now that sounds strange to some of us, but they say: “You see, we will never be tempted to sin once we have the true conversion experience. Jesus’ only temptation was to try to get back into the driver’s seat and drive the vehicle Himself instead of letting His Father drive it for Him. He was never tempted to be proud or selfish.”

This theology, like the first, makes salvation a very easy path. In fact, some would say that it is easy to be saved and difficult to be lost. This is nothing but a lie of the devil. There is nothing in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy to support such a false teaching. Every one can be saved, just like Jesus was saved, but it is not an easy path. Inspiration tells us: “The gaining of eternal life is no easy thing. By living faith we are to keep on reaching forward, ascending the ladder round by round, seeing and taking the necessary steps; and yet we must understand that not one holy thought, not one unselfish act, can be originated in self . . . All warfare is useless unless Christ’s power is combined with human effort.” The Review and Herald, November 11, 1890.

God’s inspired word is clear that it is a combination of Christ’s power and human effort that is the secret of successful Christian living. Either without the other is useless. Any theology that teaches human works without the power of God is an incomplete theology. It cannot save. And any theology that teaches the power of God to save souls without the cooperative effort of the individual, is also an incomplete theology. Jesus came down to unite humanity with divinity. With this combination of divine power and human effort, all victory is possible. (See Counsels on Diets and Foods, 153.)

We have looked at two theologies; both are “easy” theologies. One teaches that we do not have to overcome because we can continue to sin. The other asserts that we do not have to overcome because Jesus will do it all for us.

There is a third theology and it is not as popular because it is not so easy. This theology teaches that Jesus came down in our sinful, fallen nature. In that nature, He had to crucify the lusts of the flesh day by day. With that nature, He developed a character without a taint of sin. While Christ was not “a man with the propensities of sin” He did feel “all the strength of unholy passions and perverted appetites within His nature.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 112; Confrontation, 36. Yet, as He combined His human effort with the power of the Father, He gained the victory so that not even by a thought did He yield to the power of sin. He developed a perfect character within a fallen nature. That is the gospel. And it is the example that can be followed by everyone who is willing to be in subjection to God, as He was, and to follow the bloodstained path that He trod. We had no choice but to be born with a fallen nature, but by following His example we can overcome just as He overcame.

We can develop the same perfect character that Jesus had, but we will never look at ourselves as perfect because as we look at ourselves, we will see only that sinful fallen nature that has to be crucified day by day. The closer we come to the Lord, the worse we will appear in our own sight. And if anybody asks us about our righteousness, we will say, “I do not have any. I have to crucify my will every day. The only righteousness I have is Christ living within me.”


Children’s Story – Who Will be in Heaven?

“Mother, who will be in heaven?” Scott asked one bright sunny day as he watched her weed the garden.

Mother looked up from her weeding.

“Who will be in heaven?” Mother repeated the question. “Hmmm, let’s see.” Scott knew this meant she was thinking what to tell him.

“You know, I believe this garden has the answer for you,” Mother told him after awhile. “Let’s look at it.” She pointed to the plants she had been weeding.

“What plants are these?” she asked.

“Carrots,” Scott answered. He knew because he had eaten them.

“And these?” she asked, pointing to a different row.


“And these?” Mother asked again.

“Corn,” Scott answered quickly.

“Why do carrots grow in one place, onions in another, and corn over there?” Mother asked.

Scott grinned. He thought that everyone should know the answer to that question. “Because that’s what was planted,” Scott said.

“True,” Mother told him. “And this is the thing you should remember. Like seeds, people die and are buried in the ground. If they belong to Jesus when they die, they will belong to Him when they are raised from the dead. God has said this is so. So, the people who go to heaven will be the ones who love Jesus here on earth.”

Just as the old seed dies in the ground, our bodies will disappear and we will get new bodies for heaven. We will be with Jesus forever if we loved and served Him when we lived on earth.

“Not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, shall enter into heaven, just those who do the will of their Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Dear Jesus, we thank You because You are the Resurrection and Life. We know no one will come to the Father but by You. Help us to love You always so that when You come to get us we will be ready to go to heaven. In Thy dear name, Amen.

Happy Moments With God, Margaret Anderson, ©1962, 141, 142.

Victory—the Christian’s Privilege

Few doctrines cause more ire and disdain within the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists than God’s call to Christian character perfection.

Christian character perfection is best defined by referring to its synonyms—

  • The character of Christ in the life (Philippians 2:5)
  • Sanctification (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
  • Holiness (1 Peter 1:15)
  • Surrender of the will to Christ (Romans 6:13, 16, 19)
  • Love to Christ which leads to obeying His commandments (John 14:15)
  • Victory over sin (1 John 5:4)
  • Complete trust in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:4)
  • A character filled with the Holy Spirit (John 20:22; Acts 1:8; 4:8, 31)
  • Overcoming the world (1 John 5:4)
  • Walking in God’s way (1 Kings 8:58)
  • The inclination of the heart of God (1 Kings 8:58)

God’s promise of Christian character perfection is one of the great promises of Scripture. The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is to bring character perfection to those who desire salvation. “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11–13.

We notice that the perfection of God’s saints gives them an effective ministry; it edifies Christ’s church; it results in unity of the brethren and increases our knowledge of God and His goodness. Those who allow this transformation to take place in their lives are promised that they will be raised to the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Why Some Despise Christian Perfection

With such immeasurable results of Christian character perfection, well may we pose the question, Who among Christians would despise such an offer and call those who seek the fulfillment of the promise, in their own lives, deceived? Who indeed? But thousands upon thousands of Christians, including not a few Seventh-day Adventist administrators, pastors and lay-people, scorn the concept of Christian character perfection. Why? Surely there can only be one significant reason—sin and worldliness remain dear to their hearts. Yet never has sin brought a single blessing to any one of us.

Sin separates us from God. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.”
Isaiah 59:2. No prayer to God is heard while our hearts willfully harbor sin unconfessed and unforsaken unless we kneel to confess our sins and to request the power to forsake them. This is a dire state for any Christian; yet Isaiah and King David declare this fact. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Psalms 66:18.

We must never forget the power of God. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear:” Isaiah 59:1. He has called mankind to perfection in all ages. Abraham was thus called. “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” Genesis 17:1. The Lord also called Israel to character perfection. “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.” Deuteronomy 18:13. And His call to Seventh-day Adventists is “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11.

The Spirit of Prophecy, in words so plain that none need doubt, states: “God requires perfection of His children. His law is a transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all character. This infinite standard is presented to all that there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people whom God will have to compose His kingdom. The life of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God’s law, and when those who claim to be children of God become Christlike in character, they will be obedient to God’s commandments. Then the Lord can trust them to be of the number who shall compose the family of heaven.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 315.

The Spirit of Prophecy refers to Christian character perfection numerous times. On each occasion we are exhorted to seek God for the bestowal of just such a character. Without it our salvation is unsecured.

Then, again, we ask, Why do such large numbers of church leaders, pastors and lay-people abhor that which God requires and which it is their privilege to receive? Again the answer is sin. There is no abhorrence of sin and no love of righteousness.

Today, numerous pastors are destroying the faith of their congregations by preaching that we will not have victory over sin until the Second Coming. As they preach this message, they are servants of Satan, for it is he and not Christ who declares this diabolical falsehood. Listen to the inspired word. “The holy life of Abel testified against Satan’s claim that it is impossible for man to keep God’s law.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 77.[Emphasis supplied.]

(If Abel had not kept God’s law his life could not possibly have testified against the arch-deceivers claim.)

“Satan had claimed that it was impossible for man to obey God’s commandments; and in our own strength it is true that we cannot obey them. But Christ came in the form of humanity, and by His perfect obedience He proved that humanity and divinity combined can obey every one of God’s precepts.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 314.

It is a fearful matter for ministers, ordained to preach the precious truths of God, to promote the soul-destructive fabrications of Satan. Yet, today numerous pastors do so without the least concern that they will receive retribution in the day of judgement. How dare they delude the flock on a matter so plain in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy! How dare they! But dare they do. It is the duty of every layperson, not merely to ignore such sophistries of the devil, but to stand up in the might and power given to Elijah and to earnestly warn their fellow believers sitting in the pews. Such pastors should be excused from setting messages before the congregation. They are unfaithful servants and thus have forfeited their right to stand in the pulpit.

Christian Perfection Is Not Perfectionism

While Sister White always promoted Christian character perfection, she soundly condemns perfectionism on the sole occasion she refers to it. “God will not entrust the care of His precious flock to men whose mind and judgment have been weakened by former errors that they have cherished, such as so-called perfectionism.” Early Writings, 101. (Unfortunately, some translations of this passage translate the word “perfectionism” as “perfection.” One example is the Dutch translation.) On page 301 of the same book, the editors explain that perfectionism refers to the holy flesh movement which arose at the turn of the twentieth century in the state of Indiana. These people held that they had reached a state of moral perfection beyond which there was no further progress to be made and, secondly, that they could never fall from this elevated state of perfection. No wonder the servant of the Lord rejected such spiritual arrogance and error. Yet, those subscribing to the Biblical concept of Christian character perfection are frequently charged with believing perfectionism. How shallow and misleading are the words of those who deny Scripture! It is time for such confusion between Christian character perfection and the ruinous doctrine of perfectionism to be dispelled.

Seventh-day Adventists have never promoted a fanatical view of Christian character perfection. A man possesses a perfect character when he lives up to all the light God has presented to him. Jesus, Himself, stated: “Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, ‘We see;’ therefore your sin remaineth.” John 9:41.

It is only when we possess light and disobey it that sin is recorded against us. When we are “blind” to a truth because God has not yet seen us to be ready for it, despite our seeking for further truth, He does not condemn us. He takes us step by step along the Christian pathway. That is why Paul declared to the Athenians, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Acts 17:30.

We must never forget that sin is an act of the will. It is the making of a decision to flaunt God’s expressed commandments. Knowledge of God’s will is required before sin is recorded against the soul. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17.

In the early days of the Seventh-day Adventist movement, the Sabbath was observed from 6:00pm Friday until 6:00 pm Saturday. After some time, Sister White received a vision which revealed the correct timing of the Sabbath. She was shocked, for the company of Sabbath-keepers had been greatly blessed as they had kept the Sabbath, while breaking the “edges” of that holy day. In reply to Sister White’s concern, the angel replied, “ ‘If light comes, and that light is set aside, or rejected, then comes condemnation and the frown of God; but before the light comes there is no sin, for there is no light for them to reject.’” Testimonies, vol. 1, 116.

Thus, some people who are oblivious of God’s law will be found in God’s kingdom. “Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required.” The Desire of Ages, 638.

More Than the Crucifixion

Since Christian character perfection is developed through obedience to every word of admonition which God has revealed to us at any given point in our Christian experience, is this a genuine possibility for us today? The glorious news is that Christ demonstrated that this is so.

If the single purpose of Christ’s incarnation was to die on Calvary and be raised from the dead, that was accomplished in three days. If, in addition, He needed to train His disciples, this He completed in 3 ½ years. Yet, Christ spent over 33 years upon the earth. Why? So that He could give us an example that as a child, teenager and adult, a man, filled with the Holy Spirit, could overcome sin. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.” 1 Peter 2:21, 22.

“The world’s Redeemer passed over the ground where Adam fell because of his disobeying the expressed law of Jehovah; and the only begotten Son of God came to our world as a man, to reveal to the world that men could keep the law of God.
Satan, the fallen angel, had declared that no man could keep the law of God after the disobedience of Adam.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 112.

Bible Examples of Perfection

Has any man reached God’s standard of Christian character perfection? The Scriptures answer emphatically in the positive. “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not, for God took him.” Genesis 5:24.

Does “walking with God” equate with obedience to every commandment? Certainly it does. “Blessed are they that keep His testimonies, and that seek Him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in His ways.” Psalms 119:2, 3. “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. But whoso keepeth His word, in Him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.” 1 John 2:3–6.

In these passages we note that walking as Christ walked and in His ways demonstrate the fact that we keep His testimonies, we seek Him whole-heartedly, we do no iniquity, we keep His commandments, the love of God is perfected in us and we abide in Him.

Noah was selected for his holy work because he was such a man. “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9. So, too, was Job. “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.…And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” Job 1:1, 8.

Job eschewed evil and sinned not. God, Himself, proclaimed these facts. Even Satan, the father of liars, could not dispute God’s evaluation of His servant. Satan was compelled to fall back to his claim that Job only possessed a perfect character because God had so abundantly blessed him. Satan claimed that in adversity Job’s perfect character would be seen to be only a fair-weather feature. But despite the worst the devil could bring, “Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Job 1:22. Job demonstrated, through the power of God, that perfection of character could be maintained even during severe adversity.

I have often been asked in a churlish manner, “Are you perfect?” Am I? The answer to this question is provided by Job. He was perfect. God declared so on three occasions. But did he boast of his character? Did he even have the slightest inkling of God’s evaluation of his character? He said, “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.” Job 9:20, 21.

All who possess Christian character perfection will only see the sinfulness of their lives as they view the totally sinless life of their Redeemer. They will ever place their total trust in Him, recognizing their human frailties. No boast, no sense of superiority will mar their characters, for they will have fixed their eyes totally upon Jesus.

The 144,000 and Perfection

But one matter is certain, those who will compose the 144,000 will possess Christian character perfection. Review 1 Peter 2:21, 22, quoted earlier. Here we discern that Christ’s character consisted of two characteristics:

  1. He did not sin.
  2. No guile was found in His mouth.

Now let us compare the character of the 144,000. Revelation 14:5 says of this number, “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.”

It will be seen that these have developed the character of Christ—they have no guile in their mouths and they are faultless before the throne of God. No individual with sin unconfessed and unforsaken in his heart can ever stand faultless before the throne of God. “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” Zephaniah 3:13.

Christian character perfection is the condition God has prescribed for salvation. The basis for our salvation will ever be the grace (mercy) of our God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9.

I am burdened for God’s precious flock as I am for my dearest loved ones and myself. It is time that daily, moment by moment, we seek the character of Christ. “God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan.” The Desire of Ages, 311.

“From Genesis to Revelation the conditions upon which eternal life is promised, are made plain. God requires that those who shall enter heaven shall be without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Keep My commandments and live, is the requirement of God.” Review and Herald, September 3, 1901.

Russell Standish is a Seventh-day Adventist minister and physician who has offered long service to the Lord’s work. He currently travels extensively from his home in Australia to speak and evangelize around the world.

Hope for the Hopeless

Section 1

Although the condition of all the descendants of Adam and Eve is hopeless without Jesus, the anointed Savior of mankind, through Christ, there is hope for those who are apparently the most hopeless of mankind. The following statements contain encouragement for those who feel hopeless:

“God sees all the possibilities there are in men to work out His divine end; and those who are called to be laborers together with Him, He will instruct to work according to His plans. As co-workers with Christ they will labor for the poor, the outcast, and the depraved. They will not fail nor be discouraged, for, imbued with the Spirit of Christ, they will see hope for the most hopeless. They will work in God’s lines, realizing that man must be sought for and labored for in order to be made Christlike.” Review and Herald, May 29, 1900. [All emphasis supplied throughout unless otherwise noted.]

“This is the work of God’s laborers—to bring to Jesus souls who have gone away from His direct teachings and have apparently gone to pieces on the rocks and reefs of sin. These broken lives, which have been apparently hopeless, He promises to make whole.” Upward Look, 162.

“Tell the poor desponding ones who have gone astray that they need not despair. Though they have erred, and have not been building a right character, God has joy to restore them, even the joy of His salvation. He delights to take apparently hopeless material, those through whom Satan has worked, and make them the subjects of His grace. He rejoices to deliver them from the wrath which is to fall upon the disobedient. Tell them there is healing, cleansing for every soul. There is a place for them at the Lord’s table. He is waiting to bid them welcome.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 234.

“I entreat the heralds of the gospel of Christ never to become discouraged, never to regard the most hardened sinner as beyond the reach of the grace of God. The one apparently hopeless may accept the truth in the love of it. He who turns the hearts of men as the rivers of water are turned, can bring the most selfish, sin-hardened soul to Christ. Is anything too hard for God to do? ‘My word,’ He declares, ‘shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.’ Isaiah 55:11.” Gospel Workers, 267.

“Jesus is now sending His message to a fallen world.…He has committed Himself to the work of our redemption. He resolved that He would spare nothing, however costly, withhold nothing, however dear, which would restore the moral image of God in man. And He holds in store gift upon gift, waiting for the proper channels through which He can communicate the treasures of eternal life.” Signs of the Times, February 22, 1899.

“Come to Jesus, and receive rest and peace. You may have the blessing even now. Satan suggests that you are helpless, and cannot bless yourself. It is true; you are helpless. But lift up Jesus before him: ‘I have a risen Savior. In Him I trust, and He will never suffer me to be confounded. In His name I triumph. He is my righteousness, and my crown of rejoicing.’ Let no one here feel that his case is hopeless; for it is not. You may see that you are sinful and undone; but it is just on this account that you need a Savior. If you have sins to confess, lose no time. These moments are golden. ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled; for Jesus has promised it. Precious Savior! His arms are open to receive us, and His great heart of love is waiting to bless us.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 352, 353.

“Do not, I entreat of you, sit down in hopeless despair and do nothing. Do not heed any further the great tempter that it is no use for you to try. You could but perish if you came to Jesus just as you are, sinful and polluted, vile and depraved; but Jesus is amply able to save the very hardest and the most wicked and defiled sinner.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, 143.

“There are multitudes today as truly under the power of evil spirits as was the demoniac of Capernaum. All who willfully depart from God’s commandments are placing themselves under the control of Satan. Many a man tampers with evil, thinking that he can break away at pleasure; but he is lured on and on, until he finds himself controlled by a will stronger than his own. He cannot escape its mysterious power. Secret sin or master passion may hold him a captive as helpless as was the demoniac of Capernaum.”

“Yet his condition is not hopeless. God does not control our minds without our consent; but 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 that they may find deliverance in Christ. The demoniac, in place of prayer, could utter only the words of Satan; yet the heart’s unspoken appeal was heard. No cry from a soul in need, though it fail of utterance in words, will be unheeded. Those who consent to enter into covenant with God are not left to the power of Satan or to the infirmity of their own nature.” Ministry of Healing, 92, 93.

Section 2

It is possible for human beings to make choices that will result in their condition becoming hopeless. The following statements show how this is done:

If we close our eyes to the divine light that is shining upon us: “Men who will not admit the claims of God’s law, which are so very plain, will generally take a lawless course; for they have so long taken sides with the great rebel in warring against the law of God. . . . Their case is as hopeless as was that of the Jews, who would not see the light which Christ brought to them.” Review and Herald, March 23, 1886.

If we indulge pride and self-sufficiency: “The evil that led to Peter’s fall and that shut out the Pharisee from communion with God is proving the ruin of thousands today. There is nothing so offensive to God or so dangerous to the human soul as pride and self-sufficiency. Of all sins it is the most hopeless, the most incurable.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 154.

If we cherish unbelief: “The Jews through unbelief felt no need of Christ. Bodily diseases, however aggravated and apparently hopeless, were met and baffled by His divine power; but the disease of the soul, fastened in unbelief and blind prejudice, took firmer hold upon those who closed their eyes against the light. The most powerful evidence that could be produced only strengthened their opposition. Leprosy and palsy were not so terrible as bigotry and unbelief. Jesus turned from the teachers of Israel, and their chains of darkness and skepticism tightened about them.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 176.

“The stronger the evidence that was presented to their minds that Jesus had power on earth to forgive sins, as well as to heal the sick, the more they armed themselves with hatred and unbelief, till God left them to the forging of chains that would bind them in hopeless darkness. There was no reserve power to reach hearts so hardened with malice and skepticism.” Signs of the Times, October 16, 1879.

If we attempt to excuse or conceal our sins: “Satan leads many to believe that God will overlook their unfaithfulness in the minor affairs of life; but the Lord shows in His dealings with Jacob that He will in no wise sanction or tolerate evil. All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan. The more exalted their profession and the more honorable the position which they hold, the more grievous is their course in the sight of God and the more sure the triumph of their great adversary. Those who delay a preparation for the day of God cannot obtain it in the time of trouble or at any subsequent time. The case of all such is hopeless.” The Great Controversy, 620.

If we delay to overcome: “But let no one neglect present opportunities and delay repentance, presuming on the eleventh-hour conversion of the thief, and trusting to a death-bed repentance. Every ray of light neglected leaves the sinner in greater darkness than before, till some fearful deception may take possession of his mind, and his case may become hopeless.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, 159.

If we do not make an absolute surrender of self: “Without the absolute surrender of self, soul, body, and spirit the contest is hopeless. Self must be hid in Christ. Said Paul, [Philippians 2:7–11 quoted].” Bible Training School, October 1, 1916.

Section 3

Through the results of past wrong choices, some people are very near to becoming hopeless, but if they will turn to the Lord He will still save them. Situations that result in this condition are discussed in the following quotations:

Bad marriages: “He [Satan] is busily engaged in influencing those who are wholly unsuited to each other to unite their interests. He exults in this work, for by it he can produce more misery and hopeless woe to the human family than by exercising his skill in any other direction.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 248.

Sexual Sins: “You have a work to do for your own soul. Make haste, or it will be forever too late. God will now forgive the scarlet sin if you will do those things you ought to do to make your wrongs right. I do not say your case is hopeless, but you have certainly almost sinned away your day of grace; and yet Jesus is in the sanctuary. Jesus pleads in your behalf. Your brethren and your sisters have labored much for you; so much interest have they manifested for you that you have regarded crime and sins as a light matter. But Jesus loves you, and I present or lift up Jesus before you.

“Satan tells you that it is not best for you to cease sinning; you have gone so far in disobedience and transgression that it is no use for you to try to come back to God. While I feel that full disgrace of your sins is upon you, while I would have you see sin as it is, I would all the time present Jesus as a sin-pardoning Savior. The sands of your life are nearly run out, and now if you will come to God just as you are, without one plea but that He has died to save the chiefest of sinners, you will find pardon even in this the eleventh hour. Man must cooperate with God. Christ did not die to have the power to cover transgression unrepented of and unconfessed. Not all sins are to be confessed publicly, but some are to be confessed alone to God and the parties that have been injured.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, 133–137. (See the entire chapter called “Counsels to People With Moral Problems.”)

Depression and the contemplation of suicide: “You say you are tempted to cut the brittle thread of life; but if you do, then your case is hopeless, for you add the sin of murder to all your other sins. But if you come just as you are, helpless and sin-polluted, and cast yourself at the foot of the cross, poor, miserable, blind, and naked, there is a Savior to lift you up.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, 143.

Long established habits of talking doubt and unbelief: “To question and doubt and cherish unbelief in order to excuse ourselves in stepping aside from the straight path is a far easier matter than to purify the soul through a belief of the truth, and obedience thereto. But when better influences lead one to desire to return, he finds himself entangled in such a network of Satan, like a fly in a spider’s web, that it seems a hopeless task to him, and he seldom recovers himself from the snare laid for him by the wily foe.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 46.

Section 4

The following inspired statements contain cautions and counsels to keep you from despair and hopelessness and to help make you a blessing to those who feel hopeless:

Do not overwork. This will make you hopeless in your outlook: “The Lord expects His servants to be diligent in business and fervent in spirit. But He does not want them to overwork. It is not work, but overwork, without periods of rest, that breaks people down, endangering the life forces. Those who overwork soon reach the place where they work in a hopeless way. The work done to the Lord is to be done in cheerfulness and with courage. He wants us to bring spirit and life and hope into our work.” Signs of the Times, May 10, 1905.

Avoid debt. Debt brings depression and feelings of hopelessness:

“The Lord does not want anyone to be unhappy. My brother, your case is not hopeless. . . . Leave the business which makes you nervous and restless. When you have done all you can, trust in God. Get out of debt, and never again get into debt. Live so economically that you will not have to feel the galling burden of debt.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 136.

Do not look down on any sinner as though you are better than he is. Remember that we all must have infinite mercy extended to us daily or we would be hopeless: “There is need of an impartial examination of our hearts to dispel the pleasing illusions of self-love. Our condition is helpless and hopeless unless infinite mercy is granted us daily, and pardon is written against our names in the heavenly records. Those only who see and feel their spiritual necessities will go to Jesus for that help which they so much need, and which He only can give. He alone can cleanse us from all sin. He alone can place upon us the robe of righteousness.” Signs of the Times, January 4, 1883.

Give the gospel invitation for as long as possible. Even in the last hour of life the gospel can be presented and a soul saved if it is accepted: “Would that physicians might understand the greatness of the service they could render to humanity if they were able to speak simply and tenderly of the love of Jesus and of His willingness to save souls, even at the last hour of life. Many physicians fail to see what a noble influence they might exert by accepting Christ and laying hold of eternal interests. They continue to live a hopeless life, a life in which God is not recognized. They refuse to be illuminated by the Light of the world, and are in a far worse condition than the one who is suffering from physical disease.” The Kress Collection, 41.q

What Must I do to be Saved?

Love Tries to Make the Loved One Happy

Why does a man use his money to support a wife and family when he could live much better if he kept all of his money for himself? Why does a woman work so hard to cook and keep a house for a family when it would be so much easier to live alone and just cook and clean for herself?

“That is love,” we say. Love wants to make the loved one happy. Those questions are easy to answer. But the next question may not be so easy.

Why do fathers and mothers make rules for their children and families to follow? Fathers and mothers will quickly answer, “Because we love them and we want them to be happy. The rules are to keep everyone happy.”

Sometimes children do not see it that way. They think they would be happier if there were no rules. But usually when they become fathers and mothers, they do the same thing—they make rules. Somewhere along the way, they seem to learn that love does make rules, rules that call upon all of the members of the family to be nice to each other so everyone can be happy.

So how about God? If God is love, and love makes rules for happiness, should we not expect God to make rules? Yes we should. And when we look closely at God’s rules, it is easy to see that their purpose is to make us happy. They are God’s happiness rules, given to us because God is love.

What Must I do to be Saved?

This is a question that a certain young man asked Jesus. (See Matthew 19:16.) Of all the questions that we might talk about tonight, surely this is the most important. Eternal life! Think of it! A thousand years—ten thousand, a hundred thousand years—endless life! If I could offer you a medicine that would make you live forever, what would you pay for it? Would you sell your car, your house, and your lands to buy it? Of course you would. Eternal life, what a glorious thought!

I once listened to an old man preach a sermon about eternal life. He said that when he was twenty he thought fifty years of life would satisfy him. When he reached fifty, he thought he would be satisfied if he could reach seventy-five. “But I am seventy-five now,” he said, “and I am sure that I could not be satisfied with less than a hundred and fifty years of life.”

I want to offer you eternal life! Not 50 years, not 75 years, not 150 years, but eternal life in which time is counted because it means nothing. Why count your birthdays if you are going to live forever? I offer you eternal life in the words of Jesus, as He answered the young man’s question: “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” How eagerly we listen to the Saviour’s answer. All conversation stops, every head is turned; every eye is on the Master. Every ear strains to hear. What will He say? Surely this is the great question of all ages. How will He answer it?

Keep the Commandments

Kindly Jesus looks at the young man and answers, “Why callest thou Me good. There is none good but One, that is God. But if thou wilt enter into life”—[now it is coming, listen carefully—] “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

The young man thought he knew what Jesus meant, but he asked, just to be sure, “Which?” In answer, Jesus quoted several of the age-old Ten Commandments, which had been the standard of life for centuries past, and which must still continue to be.

The young man, like many today, knew about the commandments already, but he was hoping for a new way, a modern, easy way to enter into eternal life. But Jesus kindly reminded him that the pathway to eternal life has never changed and never will be changed!

“If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Those words of Jesus fall strangely on the ears of modern Christians, who are used to hearing ministers sneer at the Ten Commandments, and at those who endeavor, by the grace of Christ, to keep them. Many people are greatly surprised by His answer. Try quoting the question to someone, just to check my statement. See if they do not think the answer to question is; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” But that is not the answer Jesus gave!

Jesus didn’t give that answer to the question. Not because belief is not necessary, for it definitely is. But He knew that one who thinks he believes but does not keep the commandments actually does not believe at all, but has deceived himself. This is clearly shown in 1 John 1:9: “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

The apostle James also adds a word of caution about this empty, intellectual agreement that some people would call belief: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19.

Somebody says, “But I thought all I had to do was love God and nothing else mattered.” Yes, but notice how God tests your love to see if you really love Him: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:3.

Yes, the law of the kingdom is the law of love. Not simpering sentimentality, not lip service, but love that is seen in action and in deed, more than in empty words. Christian, do you love your Saviour? Then listen to His words: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” John 14:15.

The Law of the Kingdom of God is the Law of Love

In our own America we cherish freedom. Freedom, liberty, is the law of our great land. Our constitution, our court system, our government, our laws—all are built upon the one great basic principle of liberty and freedom for every man.

Even so, in the kingdom of God the basic principle is the law of love. It is the great principle upon which everything else depends. See how Jesus explains this. “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36–40.

Notice these words—on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. May I remind you that it does not say, “From these two commandments are cut off all the law and the prophets, so that you do not have to worry about them anymore.”

You would be surprised how many people think it says that. But it does not. It says, On these two commandments hang—how much of the law? Read it again. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Remember also what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17–19: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

What Does Fulfill Mean?

Someone says, “What does fulfill mean? When Jesus fulfilled the law did that bring it to an end?” No, indeed, dear friend. The word fulfilled meant the same thing in the language Jesus spoke as it does in English—to carry into effect, to perform completely. By looking at a few verses where the same word is used, you can easily find the answer to your question.

In Galatians 6:2 Paul writes, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Does this mean bring the law of Christ to an end? Obviously not. Paul writes again in Philippians 2:2, “Fulfill my joy.” Does he mean bring his joy to an end?

In Colossians 1:25 we find these words, “…to fulfill the word of God.” Does this mean bring the word of God to an end? Paul sent word to a man named Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it.” Does this mean to bring the ministry of the Lord to an end? Certainly not! It means to perform it perfectly and completely. And when John objected to baptizing Jesus, and Jesus said to him, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.” Matthew 3:15. Does that mean bring all righteousness to an end? Of course not. It meant to perform it completely.

So Jesus did not say, “I come not to destroy the law, but to bring it to an end.” He said, “I come not to destroy the law, but to perform it perfectly and completely.” And all true followers of Jesus will, by His grace, do the same thing.

May I recommend this to you as a good way to find the true meaning of words used in the Bible. You do not have to know Hebrew and Greek. Just see how the word is used in other verses, and you will not go wrong.

Another good example of this is the statement by Paul in Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” What does that mean? Look at other verses which use the same word, “Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.” James 5:11.

Does this mean the Lord is finished? Of course not. It means you have seen the purpose of the Lord.

In 1 Peter 1:9 it says, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls?” This means the purpose of your faith is salvation. Likewise, when Paul wrote that Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness, he did not mean that the law was finished. He meant, Christ is the purpose of the law. He gives the same thought in Romans 8:4: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

The Two Great Commandments

So the two great commandments are love to God and love to man, and on these two hang all the rest.

As you look at the Ten Commandments you can easily see how true this is. Love to God is the first great principle on which hang the first four commandments. He will have no other gods, he will make no idols or images, he will not take the name of the Lord in vain, and he will keep the Sabbath day which God has commanded.

Love to our neighbor is the second great principle of the law of love. If a man loves his neighbor he will carefully follow the last six of the Ten Commandments. He will honor his father and mother, he will not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet.

Love is the law of the kingdom, and genuine love is seen in action, not in empty words.

Did you ever notice how young girls make plans about the man they will marry? Talk to a young girl. She is going to marry a man who is handsome, cultured, educated, and wealthy. You may be sure that she will not settle for anything less than that.

But you come back in a few years. She is going to get married. You look at her finance. You have seen more handsome men and more cultured men. He does not have much education and he has no money at all! “Why are you marrying this man?” you ask. She has only one answer for all the questions: “He loves me!”

By the mysterious wisdom of a girl’s mind, she knows that it is better to have a poor man who loves her than a rich man who does not truly love her. She knows that a man who loves her will provide for her all he can and treat her kindly. She knows that true love will be seen in action.

A lady came to me in Honolulu one day in deep distress. She had a marriage problem that she wanted to discuss, and I listened in amazement as she told her story.

This woman had been married for about ten years to a certain man, she said, and in all those ten years she had been supporting herself. Her husband kept his food on one side of the refrigerator, and she kept hers on the other side. She bought her own clothes, and he bought his. She paid her expenses, and he paid his. He was not letting marriage cost him anything. They had lived this way for ten years, but now they were having trouble. So she came to me to find out what was wrong.

Of course, it was obvious what was wrong, but how do you tell a woman that her husband does not love her? I had to tell her. “Your husband does not love you, and apparently has never loved you. What his reasons were for marrying you, I do not know, but I am very sure that he does not love you.”

If You Love Me, Keep My Commandments

No man would treat a woman like that if he loved her. Love—true love—is seen in every action of the life, not just in empty words. This is why Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

This is the test by which you may know whether you truly love Him, or if you are among that class of people whom He describes in Matthew 15:8. “These people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”

Eternal life is not for such people—those who say they love God but despise His commandments and those who keep them. You must realize, of course, that Jesus is the author of the Ten Commandments. It was His own finger that traced them in the tables of stone. This is revealed by many verses of Scripture, such as Colossians 1:16: “For by Him [Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him.”

Obviously then, the Ten Commandments were written by Jesus Himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1–3, and 14.

This is clearly talking about our blessed Lord. It is Jesus who is the author and finisher of our salvation. He is the one who has set up all the plan whereby we may be saved. He is the one with whom we have to do, and the one with whom all men have had to do all the way back through the centuries. He startled the Jews, who honored Abraham, with the statement: “Before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58.

The Unchanging Christ

The unchanging Christ has provided an unchanging plan of salvation. You must not suppose that Christ changes His mind about anything or experiments with anything. You may not suppose that He will have one plan of salvation for one age and another plan for a different age. We read in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” His love is the same; His law is the same; and His grace is the same throughout all past ages and throughout eternity.

Someone may be saying, “I thought before the cross was the age of the law, and since the cross was the age of grace.” I do not doubt that you may have heard some men say that, but what does the Bible say? Did the grace of Christ begin at the cross? Read 2 Timothy 1:9: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

Beyond any doubt, we can understand His grace better since the cross, just as we can understand His love and mercy better since the cross, but that does not mean that the age of grace began at the cross. The age of grace covers the whole life span of this planet, dear friend. No man has ever been saved except by the grace of Christ. Adam, the first sinner, desperately needed the grace of God, and without it he would never have been forgiven. But the grace of Christ was there, ready to cover the repentant sinner with the blood of Christ, even though Christ had not yet died, because we read in Revelation 13:8 that in the true sense Christ was “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Noah needed the grace of Christ, and it was there for him, too. Read it in Genesis 6:8: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” If he had not found grace, he could never have been saved. But thank God, grace was there to pardon and cleanse him from sin.

Lot, who lived in the sinful city of Sodom, was able to say, “Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life.” Genesis 19:19.

The sinners of that city were the first on earth to be punished by eternal fire from the Lord, but Lot found grace and was delivered and saved by the grace of Christ. (See Jude 7.)

In Exodus 33:12 we find the words of God to Moses, “I knew thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in My sight.” In Jeremiah 3:2 we read, “Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness, even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.”

Unchanging Grace

The unchanging grace of the unchanging Christ was there, dear friend. It was there for the first sinner who needed it, and is still here for the last, until the door of mercy will be finally and forever closed. No, the age of grace did not begin at the cross, but grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, as we have read in 2 Timothy 1:9.

Why did they need the grace of Christ? Because they were sinners. Why were they sinners? Because they had missed the mark, had fallen short, had broken the unchanging law of the unchanging Christ. Remember that it was the unchanging Christ who wrote the Ten Commandments on the tables of stone with His own finger. It was this same unchanging Christ who answered the young man’s question so many years later: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

The pathway to eternal life has never changed and will never change. The people who enter the gates of the eternal city will be commandment-keeping people: “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they might have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

The judgment of the unchanging Christ will eliminate all commandment breakers. Yes, the unchanging Christ is to be our judge. “For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.” John 5:26, 27.

How will He judge us? By that unchanging law which He Himself wrote into the tables of stone. Is this true of those of all ages? Yes, the unchanging Christ will judge all men by the same standard. Here is a statement from the Old Testament on this point. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14.

Now look at how the unchanging Christ will judge New Testament Christians. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:10–12.

So, the unchanging Christ is going to judge all men of all ages by His same Ten-Commandment law, just as He saves all men of all ages who are willing to be saved by His unchanging grace.

These two things—the law of Christ to show us our sin, and the grace of Christ to forgive us and cleanse us from our sin, are two great pillars of the plan of salvation that cannot be moved. They remain the same through all the ages, as unchanging as Christ Himself. You cannot destroy one without destroying the other.

Destroy the Law—You Destroy Grace

If you take away the grace of Christ, you make the law helpless and the sinner helpless. The purpose of the law is to show you your sin and make you feel the need of the grace of Christ to forgive you. But if there is no grace of Christ, the law cannot save you because it cannot forgive.

On the other hand, if you take away the law, then no one needs the grace of Christ at all because, “Where no law is, there is no transgression.” Romans 4:15. What does this word “transgression” mean? “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, For sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4.

Sin is breaking the law, and where there is no law, there is no sin. No one can arrest me for preaching a sermon, because there is no law against it. Suppose a policeman did arrest me and took me to the judge and said, “I caught this man preaching about Christ to the people.” And suppose the judge said to me, “You shouldn’t have done that, but we will forgive you this time and put you under grace.” What then? Should I accept that? Certainly not! I would say, “Your honor, I have broken no law, and until I do break a law I do not need either grace or forgiveness.” Even so, if you take away the Ten Commandments and have no law to show the sinner what sin is, he has no need of grace.

“Where no law is, there is no transgression.”

Which Law?

Someone says, “But Dr. Larson, I read some verses in the New Testament which talk about the law being all changed and done away with.”

Yes, I am sure that you have. But you must always remember a very important thing. There are two laws in the Bible. One is the Ten Commandments, the one that we have been talking about. The one that tells us what sin is. Most Bible scholars call it the Moral Law because it deals with great and unchanging moral principles.

The other law is called the Ceremonial Law and is frequently referred to in the Bible as the Law of Moses. It tells how lambs should be sacrificed, how meat offerings and drink offerings should be made, how the annual, or ceremonial sabbaths, should be kept, and how the ritual of the old sanctuary service should be observed. This is the one that has passed away, not because God changed His mind about it, for God never needs to change His mind. He knows what will happen even before it happens.

The Ceremonial Law passed away because its work was done. It was only supposed to last until Christ came. “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” Galatians 3:24. Now that Christ has come, He has taken away the old ceremonies that pointed forward to the cross and has given us new ceremonies, which take our minds back to the cross. In place of the old Passover, we have the Lord’s Supper with the bread and unfermented wine as emblems of His body, which was broken for us, and His blood, which was spilled for us.

In place of the old ceremonial washings we now have the ceremony of baptism, which He said is the memorial of His burial and resurrection.

In place of the sacrifice of a lamb, we now have the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus, the Lamb of God, as John the Baptist called Him.

Paul writes, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28.

So we are no longer under the ceremony of sacrificing a lamb, but we look instead to the one great sacrifice of the Lamb of God. And instead of the many priests of the Old Testament, we now have Christ Himself as our one and only Priest. “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore, He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the peoples: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the Word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an High Priest, who is set upon the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 7:12–8:2.

So now we have a new set of ceremonies for the old ceremonies are no longer appropriate. They have brought us to Christ and their job is done, and they are now replaced by the new ceremonies.

Plan of Salvation is Still the Same

Under the two covenants, the old and the new, the plan of salvation is just the same. Sin is the same; the Ten Commandments are the same; the unchanging grace of the unchanging Christ is the same; but the sacrifice is different; the ceremonies are different; and the priesthood is different.

Some people think the gospel is only this side of the cross, but read what the Bible says, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Galatians 3:8. “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith I them that heard it.” Hebrews 4:2.

There is only one gospel of the one unchanging Christ, and it is salvation by faith. No man has ever been saved except by faith in the unchanging Christ. Go to Hebrews 11 and read the names of the heroes of faith, from the earliest times right on down through the ages. By faith Abel; by faith Enoch; by faith Noah; by faith Abraham; by faith Isaac; by faith Jacob; by faith Moses—and so on down through time. They were saved by the only plan of salvation that there ever was, and the only plan of salvation that there ever will be—faith in the unchanging Christ and obedience to His unchanging law, which is possible only through His grace (or indwelling power).

So when you are reading the New Testament, and you find a passage referring to law, always stop and ask, “To which law is the writer referring, the moral or the ceremonial law?” If you cannot be sure from one verse, read a few verses before and a few verses after it. That way you can always be sure.

And so, dear friend, the voice of the unchanging Christ comes ringing down to us through the years: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

There is no other way. There is no modern way. There is no newer, easier way. There is only one way to heaven, and if you want to go there you will have to go that way. Someone has said, “You are free to go to heaven in the way that God has provided, or go to hell any way you want to go.”

You and I stand facing the unchanging law of the unchanging Christ, and we realize our weakness, our helplessness. We are almost afraid to start. But here is where the grace of Christ comes in. We are forgiven for our past mistakes and by His grace we are able to live in harmony with His law. Leaning heavily upon Him, we take our first faltering steps. He helps us, as it says in Hosea 11:3: “I taught Ephraim to go, taking them by their arms…”

But sometimes we grow careless and forget to trust in His power. We stumble and fall. What, then, shall we do? “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1.

Is that not wonderful? If we fall, what should we do? Repent; place our hand in the hand of Christ and go right on again. And as we go, the prayer of Paul will be fulfilled in us:

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20, 21.

Excerpted from His Mighty Love by Ralph Larson

Two Conditions You Must Meet to be Saved, Part I

There are two conditions that you must meet to be saved. Let us look at the prayer of Jesus just before He went into the Garden of Gethsemane. “‘And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’” John 17:3. There are many places in the Bible that tell us that the world does not know God. One place is right here in this prayer.

In verse 25, Jesus says, “‘O righteous Father! The world has not known You.’” The world does not know God. But if you know God, you are going to have eternal life. That is one condition, and the second one is like unto it.

Not only must you know God, but He must also know you. In the gospel of Matthew we read about some people who say that they know the Lord, but the Lord says that He does not know them. “‘Not every one who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”’” Matthew 7:21-23.

Does God Know You?

These are people who think that they know God, but God says I do not know you. So these are the two conditions you must meet if you are going to be saved: You must know God, and He must know you. Everybody who knows God will be saved. Everyone that God knows will be saved.

Now we are human beings and sometimes we get confused in terminology. We think that if we know something about God, that is the same thing as knowing God. Many years ago I heard a story about a preacher. Late one night the telephone rang, and on the other end of the line was a young woman who was about to commit suicide. Almost every preacher or pastor has had at least one telephone call from somebody who was contemplating suicide. It is more common than you might think.

Do You Know God?

This young lady was planning to commit suicide, but before she did, for some reason, there was one question that she wanted to get answered. So she asked this preacher the one question on her heart: “Do you know God?” It just took him aback, because do you know what preachers know? Well, we know Greek; we know Hebrew, and we know history. We have been taught about public speaking; we have been taught about church administration, how to run committees and boards, how to administer communion, how to baptize people; we know theology, teaching, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

But she did not want to talk to anybody who knew all that. She wanted to talk to someone who knew God. That is the question I want to ask you. Do you know God? Does He know you? The Bible makes it very clear, there in Matthew 7, that many people think they know God, and they really do not.

There was a lady who came to one of our workers at the State Fair this past summer. She said, “Well, I know my Lord.” Because she knew Him, she knew He would and would not do certain things, and it is very interesting what people think they know about what God will and will not do. They think that they know, but they really do not. Matthew 7:21–23 is a good example of that. But there are others.

Luke 9:55 speaks about the apostles. Surely they knew the Lord. But notice what Jesus said to them: “He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.’”

And again, in John 14:9 Jesus is talking to one of His own disciples: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Phillip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father?”’” You see, these people had been with Jesus for over three years at this time and Jesus asked Phillip the question, how could I be with you so long and you not know Me? You see there are many people today, many Christians who know Jesus the way the apostles knew Jesus when He was here in the world.

What Is the Difference Between Professed and True?

“Then one said to Him, ‘Lord, are there few who are saved?’ And He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us,” and He will answer and say to you, “I do not know you, where you are from,” then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” But He will say, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.” There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. . . .” Luke 13:23–28. This is but another example of this same problem.

I will just give you a little tip for your own devotional study. If you look in the gospels where Jesus talks about weeping and gnashing of teeth, you will find out that every single time He is talking about a certain group of people at the end of time. He is talking about people who were in the professed church, who believed that they were part of His chosen people, that they were part of His own, but they find out at the end that they are not. They were in the church, and they were sure they were going to be saved, but they come right up to the end, and they are not. It is serious when you put it in that vein, is it not? But that is whom He is talking about every single time when He talks about weeping and gnashing of teeth in the gospels. (See Matthew 8 and 25.)

Incidentally, there are going to be a lot of preachers in that crowd. A lot of them. In fact, Ellen White says that a lot of them had high positions in God’s work. (See Upward Look, 301.) I can tell you that you and I do not want to be in that group.

We need to talk to the Lord about this and say, “Lord, is my religion real? Or is it just a game of pretend?” The apostle Paul talks to a young preacher about this very problem. He says, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Titus 1:16.

The Horror of Rejection

So we can see from these Scriptures that there will be many people who thought that they knew God and that God knew them. They will come right up to the end, and they will have the most bitter, awful disappointment and shock that they have ever had.

I try to imagine this in my mind over and over again, and frankly I am unable to do so. I cannot imagine how terrible it would be to realize that probation is over, and you are lost. There is not going to be another second chance like a lot of people think. It is over. You have already had your second chance, and you are lost. This has happened not just to individuals but to whole groups and nations and people. There are many texts in both the Old and New Testaments that point this out as a problem with the Jewish nation.

Isaiah 58:1, 2 says, “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching God.”

These are people who are very religious. They go to church and they say, “We want somebody to preach to us and show us the ways of God.” It says they delight in the ways of God, but the Lord says, “You do not even know Me. You do not even know the way of peace,” as you can see in Isaiah 59:8.

Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet, because he did a lot of weeping. He says, “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night. . . . They have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:1, 3.

The Lord says My own chosen people do not know Me. They just think they do. They are very religious. These people, even from a human point of view, probably seemed much more religious than the average Seventh-day Adventist today.

The gospel of John, of all the gospels, deals with this issue and this question a great deal. In fact, John deals with it in all of his writings. This is John the Baptist speaking: “John answered them, saying, ‘I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.’” John 1:26.

They Did Not Know Him!

Jesus had been in the world for 30 years at this time, and they did not know Him. They did not know Him! Now there had been much evidence given. Everybody knew about the shepherds and about the wise men. And there were many of the leaders of the people who knew about the time when Jesus had been in the temple for three days asking questions of the leaders of Israel.

But they did not know Him. This theme keeps coming up over and over again. “Then they said to Him, ‘Where is Your Father?’ Jesus answered, ‘You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.’” John 8:19.

So the Jewish people did not know that God was among them in the flesh. It was the greatest opportunity that had ever been given to the human race since Adam and Eve. He was there, right then, and they did not know.

Are you aware of the fact, friend, that very soon we are to be given the greatest opportunity that has been given to God’s people since the time of Christ and the apostles? Did you know that the majority of Adventists will not know what is going on? Are you aware of the fact that Ellen White says that the light that lightens the earth with its glory will be called a false light.” (See Review and Herald, May 27, 1890.)

The Last Message of Mercy

The light that lightens the earth with its glory is an expression from the Bible. What is that about? It is about the Loud Cry that is described in Revelation 18:1. It says, ‘I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” (KJV.)

The Loud Cry is the last message of mercy given to this world, and it is going to be accompanied by an experience of primitive godliness that has not been seen since the days of the apostles. You can read about that in The Great Controversy, 464. It is going to be accompanied by more miracles than any of us have ever yet seen. Signs and wonders are going to follow the believers. That is what it says.

Miracles of healing will be wrought. Everybody that is an Adventist is going to know that something is happening. But Ellen White said that they would call this light that lightens the earth with its glory, a false light.

Why? How could that be? Because the people do not know God, that is how. That is why. They did not know Him. That is why they crucified Him. They did not know who He was. Paul says that if they had known who He was, they would not have done what they did. But they did not know Him. The question is, do you and I know Him? As we draw closer and closer to the end, we are going to have to know Him.

Friends, you and I are going to be told that we are in league with the devil, that we do not know God at all and that we are the cause of all the trouble coming upon the earth. We are going to be told that, and if you do not know Him, you are not going to make it. Do you know Him? Do you know that you know Him? Do you know that He knows you?

An Intimate Relationship with Your Redeemer

This is a big theme in the Bible. Do you know God? Does He know you? The problem is not God knowing about us, and us knowing about God. It is not talking about knowing information about someone; it is talking about us actually having an experience, a relationship with that person.

God wants to have a relationship with you and you need to have a relationship with Him. “‘To him (that is the Good Shepherd) the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.’” John 10:3, 4.

Do you know His voice? If you know Him, you will know His voice. Do you know how to distinguish the voice of Jesus from a stranger? Jesus says that the sheep can tell the difference. In verse 5, He says that His sheep will not even listen to the voice of strangers; they will flee from them.

What is the difference between the voice of the Shepherd and the voice of the stranger, and how do you tell the difference? Here is one quick tip: the voice of the Shepherd will never contradict anything in the Bible, especially the law of God. That is why you need to be studying the Bible, so you can recognize the Voice, because there are lots of voices today.

“‘I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.’” John 10:14. Jesus says, the people who belong to Me, they know Me. I know them, and they know Me. No exceptions! People who are taken to heaven when Jesus comes will be people who know Him, and He knows them.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” So there is one question you can ask yourself, “Can I tell the difference in the voice?” Now the gospel of John also points out certain criteria so you could know which people are not the Lord’s; they are not His sheep; they are not His people, and they do not know Him. Maybe this is not so pretty, but it is surely appropriate for the times in which we are living.

Hated and Persecuted for Christ

In John 15:19, 20, Jesus is telling His disciples that they are going to be persecuted. The world is going to hate them and persecute them. Why is the world going to hate them and why is the world going to persecute them? Verse 21 explains it: “‘But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.’”

Why? They do not know Him. They do not know God. “‘These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [They will disfellowship you, in other words.]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.’” John 16: 1, 2. The Greek text says, “Whoever kills you will glory that he is doing service for God.” He will exult that he is doing something for the Lord because he is killing God’s people.

“‘And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.’” Verse 3. Why do they do these things? They do not know God. I want to tell you, friends, if, in your heart and in my heart, we ever have the desire to get even with the people that abuse us, there is something wrong. We do not know God. There is a lot of that going on today. Professed Adventists even take other Adventists to court, so they can put them in prison, if they do not do what they want.

God’s “Professed” People

Why? Jesus told us why. They do not know “the Father nor Me.” Are you brave? Are you ready for me to get very specific? We are living in a time just like this time. Who was it that Jesus was talking about that was going to do this? Was it the Romans? No, it was the Jews, God’s chosen people. His professed people. That is the way it is today.

It is a very serious thing to profess to be one of God’s children and then get involved in persecuting other children of God, because they are heretics or fanatics or whatever they are. I do not believe in heresy; I do not believe in fanaticism; I believe in fighting both of them, but I do not believe in killing the people. I do not believe in putting the people in prison because their doctrines are wrong, or they are fanatics.

Jesus said the people who do this do not know God. “They do not know the Father nor Me.” Now let us just think this through a little bit. I want you to think.

Are You Involved?

I want to ask you some questions. Do you think that God is going to finish His work in this world through people who do not even know Him? Is that what you think? Well, that is what some people think. That is what some Adventists think. They write me letters and tell me that. Some people think that God is going to finish His work through people who do not even know Him.

“Oh,” they say to me, “that is not everybody.”

Now listen, let us think that one through. Not everybody. There is a Nicodemus. Let me tell you something, friends, Jesus did not finish the work that God gave Him to do through Nicodemus, and He did not do it through the Sanhedrin. Those people in the Sanhedrin did not know Him. Even Nicodemus did not really know Him yet. It took him a while. After the cross, Nicodemus got it figured out.

We are not passing judgment on who is going to be saved and who is not going to be saved. Not at all! That is God’s business. But it is time to think things through and it is not rude or sacrilegious for a preacher to ask you some questions such as, “Do you really believe that God is going to finish His work through people who do not even know Him?” That is what the majority of Adventists believe today. Jesus said the people who are involved in persecuting other believers do not know Me, and they do not know the Father. It is too pointed!

Somebody says, “Well, Pastor John, they are not all involved in that.”

I am sorry, brother and sister, that is not true. You are mistaken. They are all involved, and the reason they are all involved is very simple; they all belong to one organization that is doing it. Unless they are protesting it, they are part of it!

To be Continued …

Two Conditions You Must Meet to be Saved, Part II

At the end of Part One of this article, we were looking at what our responsibility becomes when we have our names on the membership of a particular organization, and that organization does something that is wrong. Are we responsible? Are we involved with the wrongdoing?

You Are Part of It

Why is it wrong for a Seventh-day Adventist to belong to a labor union? Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever tried to think that through in your mind? Have you read what Ellen White says about labor unions? She says that you cannot belong to a labor union without disregarding every commandment in the Decalogue: “While they belong to these unions, they cannot possibly keep the commandments of God; for to belong to these unions means to disregard the entire Decalogue.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 143.

Now why is it impossible for a Seventh-day Adventist to belong to a labor union without disregarding every commandment in the Decalogue? I have been around a number of Adventists who have belonged to labor unions, and they did not kill anybody. The labor union did not force them to lie or to commit adultery. Why then did Ellen White say that you cannot belong to a labor union without disregarding every commandment in the Decalogue? Because, when you become a member of that organization, you are part of that for which the organization stands.

When you are part of an organization that officially, through its highest elected officers, goes to court and sues God’s people and you do not protest it, do you still bear responsibility? We are all going to the Day of Judgment. Do you think about the Day of Judgment often? I do. I want to tell you, friends, I pray about this. I do not know if it is because I preach too straight or not, but I have enemies in this world, and they tell me, in effect, that I am going to hell.

So I kneel down and pray, and I say, “Lord, I really do not want to go to hell. I want to know You; I want to obey You; I want to do whatever You say. Show me what I am doing or saying that is wrong so it can be corrected, so I can be ready for the Day of Judgment. I want to know You, and I want You to know me. I do not want to have a pretend religion. I am not concerned about what so-and-so says or thinks, but I am very concerned about what You think.”

Is Persecution Ever Right?

Well, John 16:3 and 4 are verses that Seventh-day Adventists need to think through, if we are involved in persecuting our brother in Christ just because they are fanatics or heretics, or whatever they are. The Bible says if we do that we do not know either the Father or the Son. We are not candidates for eternal life at all but are still in the bonds of unrighteousness.

You see, there is no text in the Bible that says you can persecute people if they are heretics or fanatics. There is no statement in inspired writings that condones persecution. Even in the Old Covenant, when punishment for sin was meted out, no one was punished except those who had broken the Law of God. When you study church history you find that all of the people who have been persecuted have been called heretics, schismatics and fanatics. That is what they have always been called. And, by the way, have you ever stopped to think that there probably were some people burned at the stake who, if you knew what they believed, you would say were either heretics or fanatics? You would probably say that about some of those people, yourself. But that does not mean it is right to burn them.

II Corinthians 5:15, 16 says, “And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh [That is, if they knew Christ when He was here on earth.], yet now we know Him thus no longer.”

We Need a Deeper Experience in Jesus

Notice there is a deeper experience than knowing Jesus according to the flesh. From now on we regard no one according to the flesh, for now we know Him thus no longer. Verse 17 continues, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Oh, friend, do you know Him? Not according to the flesh, but do you know Him? Does He know you? “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” I Corinthians 8:2, 3.

If you know God, you will love Him, and you will be known by Him.

How do you know whether you love God or not? Let us allow Scripture to answer this question.

In Philippians 3:10, this is Paul’s great desire. In fact, he says in verse 7, I have lost everything, and it is just rubbish compared with this. This is all I want, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” This verse, by the way, reveals why there are so many Christians who do not know God, because there are some parts of religion of which they do not want to be a part.

Are You Part of His Suffering?

They do not want to be part of the suffering, that is the cross. Did you know that the cross is not really popular today like most people think it is? That is a good passage of Scripture to study. That was Paul’s great desire, and because that was his great desire, that desire was fulfilled. He said it was fulfilled.

Read what he said in II Timothy 1:12: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.”

Frightened Seventh-day Adventists

Many Adventists today are frightened, because they see that we are facing the greatest crisis of the ages—and we are.

All preachers have a responsibility. They have a responsibility, not only to the lost world, but they also have a responsibility to God’s people to help them to be ready for the coming crisis. We are going to meet it whether we are ready or not, but it is better if we are ready. Would you not agree? And I want to tell you, friend, a large part of being ready is knowing Him.

Our Divine Lord is equal to any emergency, and you have to know that. You have to know Him. If you know Him, you will be all right. You may be in a dungeon somewhere one of these days; they may tell you that they are going to kill you; they may tell you they are going to torture you to death; they may tell you any number of things that they are going to do to you, but if you know Him, you need not fear. Then to you is the assurance “Every child of God that is brought into difficulty and trial because of His faithfulness to Jesus, may claim the promise, and will receive sufficient grace for every emergency.” Review and Herald, April 15, 1890.

Power to Endure

In An Adventist Apocalypse, Ellen White says that the Holy Spirit will help God’s people to endure whatever may happen. An Adventist Apocalypse is a compliation from the files of the letters and manuscripts written by Ellen G. White. Published by Biblical Studies Institute, Hermosa, S.D., 1992.) You see, nothing can happen that Jesus is not equal to, and that is what we have to know. We have to know Him.

Ellen White, writing concerning the power of Christ, said that by a touch or a word or a look He could banish all manner of disease. (See Counsels on Health, 457.) Is that not wonderful? After reading that I said, “Lord, it is all right with me, whether it is a touch, a word, or a look does not matter, I just want to be healed of all diseases, all spiritual disease.” You have to be healed of your spiritual disease before you can be given a new body.

Of all the Bible writers, the apostle John writes most about knowing God. He makes it simple. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His Commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” I John 2:3–5.

The Great Tragedy of the Christian World

Oh, the great tragedy of the Christian world today, is that people think that they know God while they are disobeying Him. John says that the person who says I know God, but is not keeping His commandments, is a liar!

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” I John 3:4–7.

John says he does not sin. That means that he does not sin—not just at a certain point, but he does not sin continuously! As I was thinking about that, I thought, he is not stating it in the weakest possible way; he is stating it in the strongest possible way. If you know Jesus, He knows you, and He will give you the power to live a new kind of life. If there is not deliverance from sin through Christ, then you can have no confidence in Scripture, and if you cannot have confidence in Scripture, what confidence do you have at all about the future?

Are You Having Personal Victory?

If you are discouraged by what I say, remember that I did not make this up. It came out of God’s Book, and God cannot lie. If you have some besetting sin in your life that you have tried a thousand times to overcome and you cannot do it, go to the Lord and say, “Lord, I am making a complete commitment with You. You have promised that You are going to give me victory. This is what you have promised, and I pray that you will fulfill Your Word in my life. I am going to try.” You will find out that God will work miracles in your life.

You do have to put the fork down and shove yourself away from the table. God will not make you quit eating. But, if you make a full commitment and say, “Lord, whatever is keeping me from having victory in my life, show me what it is, and I will listen, I will put forth my best effort to obey you;” you will have victory.

There are some people who are asking for victory in their lives, but then they negate their own prayers. Let me illustrate that simply so you can understand. You do not ask God to help you overcome smoking and then go to the store and buy cigarettes. Do you? Will God answer your prayer if you are doing that? No, He will not! God never takes away your power of choice. But if you choose to put your will on the side of God’s will and ask Him to fulfill His Word, and if you will cooperate, He will do it. His throne is staked on the fact that He will do it.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if one person could come to God at the Day of Judgment and say, “Lord, I surrendered my life totally to You. I made the commitment. I did everything I could to follow what was in Your Book, and I could not do it. I did not have enough strength; there was not enough power provided.”

If one person could do that, it would destroy the government of God, because God has promised that He will do it for everyone. He is no respecter of persons. Now, by the way, be careful, do not make up your own human test and expect God to fulfill that. I am not talking about what we decide we are going to do or not do; I am talking about what God’s Book says.

The Command Contains the Promise

There are things in His Book that we are told to do and not to do, and anything in His Book that it says to do or not to do, God will give you the power and the grace to obey. But do not make up your own human test and then expect that God will fulfill that. He might or He might not.

Whoever sins, has neither seen Him nor known Him, because when you get to know Him, you are going to quit sinning. “We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding (that is a sound mind), that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” (See John 5:18–20.)

Do You Know Him?

That is why Jesus came, so we could know Him. He wanted to have an experience, a relationship with us and make it possible for us to know Him, to have a close, intimate, spiritual relationship with Him. Is this happening in your life? It has to happen, friends, if you are going to get through the coming crisis.

The apostle Paul says that this experience of knowing the love of Christ is beyond knowledge. It is the condition that you must be in if you are going to get through the crisis and be ready for Jesus to come. It is time to go to the Lord in prayer and say, “Lord, I want to know You, and I want to know you better than I know you now.”

Do you think that any of us know the Lord as well as we could, or as well as we will in the future if we are saved? Do you think so? Well, should we not be learning day by day to know Him better?

Are you going to the Lord and saying, “Lord, I want to know you more. I want to get closer. I lack some information; I want to know You as a personal God, and I want to be touched, but a word or a look is all right.”

Obedience is Not Optional

Friends, one touch, one look, one word from the God that we serve can cure us of every physical and spiritual need instantly. He wants to come into your life, but He cannot do it if you are disobeying instructions.