The Essence of Heaven, Part II

Ellen White counseled: “Parents, make your home a little heaven on earth. You can do this, if you so choose. . . . You can so relate yourselves to God that His Spirit will abide in your home. Come close to the bleeding side of the Man of Calvary. Those who are partakers with Him in His sufferings will at last be partakers with Him in His glory.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 200. If your home is not a little heaven to go to heaven in, at least one of the people in that home cannot go to heaven in the condition in which they are right now.

Love Not Forced

The spirit of self-sacrificing love cannot be forced on anybody. A husband cannot force his wife to love him; a wife cannot force her husband to love her; parents cannot force children to love them. You cannot force it. It cannot be commanded.

Ellen White wrote, “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known.” The Desire of Ages, 22.

Let us consider this in a very practical way for a moment. Some of you will be able to relate to this because you have children. Now, a human baby is born to be loved, but the baby does not understand very much about love. Some of the babies you see today you would think know nothing about love. Be that as it may be, no baby knows very much about love, but the mother is supposed to know about love, and if the mother knows about love, the mother starts giving love to the baby. It is a wonderful thing to see. Every day, several times a day, the mother gives love to the baby. It is expressed in many different ways¾by touching, by stroking, by the expression on the face, by the tone of the voice, by giving food, by giving water, by making the baby comfortable. There is a reason that God made human babies so they require a lot of care. It is in the process of receiving that care that they learn what love is.

But the time comes when the baby starts to really respond to the mother’s love. It is very interesting to see this response. Why is the baby responding to the mother’s love? Because the baby has received so much love from the mother that now this baby has love to give back to the mother.

Now, let me ask you a serious question, albeit an awful question, but we need to face reality. What if the baby is born to a woman who is angry and bitter and does not have very much love to give? Do you know what will happen?

Let us read about it: “The reason why there are so many hard-hearted men and women in our world, is because true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed. The better part of the nature of those of this class was perverted and dwarfed in childhood; and unless rays of divine light can melt away their coldness and hard-hearted selfishness, the happiness of such is buried forever.” Review and Herald, June 22, 1886.

How awful this is! Their happiness is buried forever, unless Divine love can break through that ice.

“If we would have tender hearts, such as Jesus had when he was upon the earth, and sanctified sympathy, such as the angels have for sinful mortals, we must cultivate the sympathies of childhood, which are simplicity itself. Then we shall be refined, elevated, and directed by heavenly principles.” Ibid.

There are people all around us¾I do not say this to judge anyone¾especially in our time much more so than 50 years ago who are spiritually and emotionally crippled, and they will be spiritually and emotionally crippled until Jesus comes, because of the spiritual and emotional damage that was inflicted on them from babyhood up through childhood.

I am not saying that those people cannot be saved. God can save people whether or not they are physically crippled or spiritually and emotionally crippled, but the fact remains that in this world they are spiritually and emotionally crippled.

I mention these things to hopefully be a little bit of help to those of you who are parents of small children. Do not repress or neglect to give affection to your small children. If you do, they will grow up to be hard-hearted men and women. They will be emotionally crippled for the rest of their lives in this world.

Feminist Movement

The principle of sacrificing yourself for the good of others has special meaning and implications when discussing the marriage institution. Through my studies, I understand a little bit about what has happened in society since ancient Rome.

In the world today is something that is called the Feminist Movement. Most Seventh-day Adventist preachers seem to delight in condemning and criticizing the Feminist Movement. I am not saying that it is good; I am not trying to promote it, but I think it is right to recognize that it came as a reaction to a different extreme. What was the different extreme? Men said to their wives, “I am the head of the house; you do whatever I say.”

In my studies, I was shocked to see how different society was in the time of John Wesley (1703-1791). A man and his wife came to Wesley, the wife saying that her husband had been beating her. Wesley had a lady examine her, and sure enough, she was black and blue from her neck down to her feet. The husband declared, “I was full of faith while I was doing it,” and he was excused. His actions were considered to be all right. As an outgrowth of such action, some of the Methodist Christians decided that they needed to make a rule. This just shows you how far the human mind can go astray¾they decided that a man should not beat his wife with a rod that was thicker than his thumb. What kind of society was that?

It was in reaction to this kind of thinking that the Feminist Movement arose. The Feminist Movement, of course, goes to a different extreme. This whole idea of who is the boss, who is the greatest, and all this, is something that destroys the homes and marriages. It can destroy the whole universe if it gets out of hand.

Who Is In Control?

You see, that is part of the original controversy. Who is going to be boss? Jesus addressed this problem in Matthew 20:20-23, “Then there approached Him the mother of the sons of Zebedee with her sons, worshipping and desiring a certain thing from Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to Him, ‘Grant in order that these my two sons may sit one at Your right hand and one at Your left in Your kingdom.’ Jesus answering said, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink of the cup that I am about to drink of, and the baptism that I am about to be baptized with?’ They say, ‘We are able.’ And He says to them, ‘You shall indeed drink of My cup and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to those for whom it is prepared by My Father.’ ”

At the time Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering in terrible agony, if He had gone to James and John and asked them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am drinking, and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” they would not have been so self-confident. But now, although He did not promise that He was going to give this honor to them, it still aroused trouble in the church. The apostles got very angry about it. We are told in verse 24, “And the ten, hearing, were indignant concerning the two brothers.”

Why were they angry? Because they wanted the top position too! This is the same thing that happens in the family. The husband and wife are fighting about who is going to get the final say on something.

Just Great or No. 1

Matthew 20 continues: “Jesus called them and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. But it shall not be like this among you, but whoever wishes among you to be great, let him be your deacon.’ ” Verse 25. (A deacon is a middle-class servant.)

What if you do not want to be just great; what if you want to be No. 1? Jesus said, “If you want to be great, become a servant,” but then He goes on to say, in verse 27, “And whoever wishes among you to be first, let him be your doulos.” Now, a doulos was not a middle-class servant; a doulos was a slave or a bondservant. That was the lowest level of servanthood.

If you want to be great, Christ said that you should be a diakonos, a deacon. But if you want to be first, be a doulos, a bondservant. Are you catching on to what Jesus is saying? If you just want to be great, you can be a servant, but if you really want to be great, then you need to go even lower in servanthood.

Jesus demonstrated this in His own life. Who was the Majesty of heaven? Jesus Christ. He was the Majesty of heaven. The Father called Him, My One and only One¾He is Mine, and I am well pleased with Him. (11 Peter 1:17.)

Christ was the Majesty of heaven. He was equal with God the Father. There are still Christians arguing about this today. I am not interested in arguing about it, if somebody does not believe it. Inspired writings are very clear, in my understanding, that Jesus Christ is equal with the Father. (See Philippians 2:6.)

The One that is in first place in the universe left it all, and He came down to this earth for a wretch like me. And then, after He came down, He went to the cross for me. When He died on the cross, He had gone as low as anybody could go. You cannot go lower than that in servanthood.

If you read the New Testament in the Greek language, you will find that when Paul addresses the Christian churches, he refers to himself as a doulos of Jesus Christ every time except one—when he refers to himself as a deacon. He considered himself to be a bondservant, a slave of Jesus Christ.

If you and I do not learn the lesson being given here, we will never be in the kingdom of heaven. We can keep the Sabbath; we can pay tithe; but if we do not learn this, we will not be in the kingdom of heaven. This is the very essence of heaven. This is the essence of its bliss.

I do not know about you, but when I studied this subject, I recognized that I am not ready to go to heaven. I need a change inside; do you? Before we are ever going to have heaven on the outside, we have to have heaven on the inside.

Our Great Need

I would like to illustrate for you our great need and the great lack that we have of learning this principle in Adventism, because I know that we do not have it. I am not judging anybody, but I am going to show you now how I know we do not have it. Consider the words of Ellen White:

“We, living far down the passage of ages, have the privilege of studying the Old Testament in connection with the New. Our faith and courage should be strong as we see prophecies fulfilling. But how many there are who are unbelieving. How many there are who reveal selfishness and unkindness in their dealings with one another. How many professing Christians seem never to be satisfied unless they are engaged in strife. How many home circles are broken because the members receive and act upon Satan’s suggestions.

“No unpleasant words are spoken in heaven. There no unkind thoughts are cherished. There envy, evil surmising, hatred, and strife find no place. Perfect harmony pervades the heavenly courts.

“Well does Satan know what heaven is, and what the influence of the angels is. His work is to bring into every family the cruel elements of self-will, harshness, selfishness. Thus he seeks to destroy the happiness of the family. He knows that the spirit governing in the home will be brought into the church.

“Let the father and mother always be guarded in their words and actions. The husband is to treat his wife, the mother of his children, with due respect, and the wife is to love and reverence her husband. How can she do this if he treats her like a servant, to be dictated to, ordered about, scolded, found fault with before the children? He is forcing her to dislike him and even to hate him.

“May God help fathers and mothers to open the windows of the soul heavenward and let the sunshine of Christ into the homelife. Unless they do this, they will be surrounded by a mist and fog most injurious to spirituality.

“Fathers and mothers, bring sweetness and brightness and hopefulness into the lives of your children. Kindness and love will work wonders. Never punish a child in anger. When you do this, you are acting like grown-up children, who have not left behind them the unreasonableness of childhood. Will you strive earnestly to be able to say, ‘When I became a man, I put away childish things’?” The Upward Look, 163.

In every family the devil is trying to do something. He is trying to bring in dissension and the cruel principles of selfishness, because he knows that if he can bring his principles in¾that includes the principle where I am No. 1, and you have to make me happy—it will destroy the happiness of the family.

Devil’s Success

As a pastor, I visit families all over when I travel. I am sorry to tell you that the devil has been very successful among Seventh-day Adventist Christians. He has been so successful that the divorce rate among Seventh-day Adventists is about the same as it is in the world. (<> June 4, 2007.) If your home is a little heaven to go to heaven in, do you suppose divorce is going to happen? No, it will not.

Why is the devil so hard at work in every single family to bring in the cruel principles of selfishness, dissension, arguing and strife, and destroy the happiness of the family?

Ellen White, as we read in the book The Upward Look, has told us exactly what his goal and his objective is. He is not trying to bring in dissension and the cruel principles of selfishness and strife just because he wants to destroy your family. He has something much bigger in mind. She says that the devil knows that the same principles worked out in people’s families will be worked out in the church.

Now, let us think this through. If every family in the church has a little heaven to go to heaven in, because they are practicing the principles of self-sacrificing love with each other, then when all the families get together, is it going to be like hell or heaven? Of course, it is going to be like heaven! But the devil knows that whatever principles are acted out at home will be acted out in church.

As I travel and preach at different churches, I find that the churches are experiencing terrible trouble with strife and dissension. What does that tell us? We do not have to be real intelligent; we do not have to have a college education to figure it out; we do not have to be prophets. If there is strife and dissension in the church, that tells us that there is strife and dissension in the homes of the people in that church. What does that mean? It means we are not yet ready to go to heaven.

Prayer Needed

We have some praying to do. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will come in and change our hearts. There is a passage from Ellen White’s writings that I repeat to myself every day: “The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he is to pray to the Saviour to heal the disorders of his sin-sick soul.” The Acts of the Apostles, 532. I have told the Lord that if He has told me to pray that constantly, I am going to do it.

Do you want the disorders of your sin-sick soul to be healed? Oh, I want to tell you that when the disorder of the sin-sick soul of the wife is healed and when the disorder of the sin-sick soul of the husband is healed, something will change in the family. It will no longer be like purgatory in the home.

There will be a change within the church too. We are going to experience what the early believers called “the fellowship of the saints.” “We are to engage earnestly in a spiritual warfare which we do not consider as we should, and we fail to appreciate what it means. The confederacy of evil is arrayed against those who would fight the battles of the Lord.

“But we battle not alone. The fellowship of the saints in light is ours, the championship of the hosts of heaven is ours, and more than angels are on our side; for leading the ranks of his armies is the Captain of the Lord’s hosts. He is Commander of the battle, and as he leads his army to the fields of action, his voice is heard above the din of the battle and the strife, ‘Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ [John 16:33.] Our leader is a conqueror. Advance, then, to victory.” Review and Herald, March 14, 1893.

May we learn the lesson of self-sacrificing love, which is the very essence of the bliss of heaven.

[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

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

PROPHETIC PARALLELS – Christ’s Church “Then”. . . and Christ’s Church Now Ch.5

By Terry S. Ross

prophetic parallels - greenChapter 5 – A Servant of Servants

“The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility” (Proverbs 15: 33).

Christ on the Mount of Olives pictured to His disciples the scene of the great Judgment Day. And He represented its decision as turning upon one point. When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering.

Jesus had told His disciples that they were to be hated of all men, to be persecuted and afflicted. Many would be driven from their homes, and brought to poverty. Many would be in distress through disease and privation. Many would be cast into prison. To all who forsook friends or home for His sake He had promised a reward in the life to come. Now He assured a special blessing to all who should minister to their brethren. “In all who suffer for My name,” He told them, “You are to recognize Me” (Matthew 25: 34- 45). “As you would minister to Me, so you are to minister to them. This is the evidence that you are My disciples.”

Those whom Christ commends in the JUDGMENT MAY HAVE KNOWN LITTLE OF THEOLOGY, BUT THEY HAVE CHERISHED HIS PRINCIPLES. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives.

Here Jesus sets forth the truth regarding those who will be saved in the last days— those who are His true disciples. First of all, a ministry that is commended by Christ is one in which people are the main concern. The ministry will be paying attention to the best interests of the people. This kind of ministry puts its resources into filling needs more than its own comfort. True Christian ministry shows sacrifice more than glitz and showy display. Secondly, Jesus also says that true ministers would be hated of all men, persecuted and afflicted. Those who minister, in turn, to these faithful leaders are those whom Christ commends in the Judgment.

I know from my own experience it is not imperative that one knows every answer to every theological question to realize whether a particular point being made is right or not. Many times over the last several years I have waited on something I’ve heard, choosing not to act on it because the principle it was explaining didn’t seem to line up with the Lord’s principles. Many more times than not I have been glad to have adhered to what I believed was God’s principle in the matter. Time and time again this has proven to be the right choice. The better you understand what the principles of God are (and you do this by reading His word, of course), the better you will be safeguarded in any given situation. When you decide to act on the right principle, even if you don’t happen to know everything about the particular subject in question, it usually ends up saving you a lot of unnecessary grief later. The angels of heaven are sent forth to minister to those who will be heirs of salvation. Angels of heaven are passing throughout the length and breadth of the earth seeking to comfort the sorrowing, to protect those who are at risk, to win the hearts of mankind to Christ. Not one is neglected or passed by. God is no respecter of persons, and He cares equally for all the souls He has created.

Two important principles are brought to light. God’s love extends to every soul and is unconditional. Now please don’t get this mixed up with some who would have you believe that because God’s love is unconditional, His promises are unconditional. This would be a fatal mistake! NONE OF GOD’S PROMISES ARE UNCONDITIONAL. ALL PROMISES ARE CONDITIONAL BASED UPON OBEDIENCE. God loves you no matter what you do, but He will not save you no matter what you do. God’s love and God’s promises are two different things and if not rightly understood can result in disaster. God is no respecter of persons. Poverty or riches mean nothing to God. Neither do profession or position. All are judged by the same laws set forth by God.

Also, let us be very sensitive to the timing of the last events which we are now experiencing. While the heat of the battle intensifies, we should be aware that it is only God who closes probation, not any man. Even the angels cannot do this. We are still in for a few surprises before it’s all over. Let’s not forget that Saul, a staunch conference man who fiercely persecuted THE church, became Paul AFTER the “church” leaders had crucified Jesus and AFTER the stoning of Stephen.

Those who minister to others will be ministered unto by the Chief Shepherd. They themselves will drink of the living water, and will be satisfied. They will not be longing for exciting amusements, or for some entertaining change in their lives. The great topic of interest will be how to save souls that are ready to perish. Conversation will be worthwhile and not filled with trivial matters. The love of the Redeemer will draw hearts together in unity.

Brotherly love is the earthward manifestation of the love of God. It was to implant this love, to make us children of one family, that the King of Glory became one with us.

And when His parting words are fulfilled, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15: 12)— when we love the world as He has loved it— then for us His mission is accomplished. We are fitted for heaven because we have heaven in our hearts.

Those who secure heaven will have a genuine love for their fellow man. When one is called to minister, it involves more than just preaching— it means service to others in love. It means having a sincere interest in the well- being of others. Even as the enemy of Christ sought to destroy Him, even though through gossip and slander the “church” attempted to destroy His influence and defame His character, even in the face of apparent failure, Jesus demonstrated that He valued every soul. No matter how vile, no matter what present or past sin, Jesus never turned away a soul who came to Him for salvation. Jesus pitied those who refused His invitations of mercy and forgiveness. He NEVER took pleasure in their destruction. As Christ and His disciples were together in the Upper

Room, on the night He would be arrested, “There was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22: 24). THIS CONTENTION, WHICH WAS CARRIED ON IN THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST, GRIEVED AND WOUNDED HIM. The disciples clung to their favorite idea that Christ would assert His power and soon take His position on the throne of David. In heart each still longed for the highest place in the kingdom. They had placed their own estimate upon themselves and upon one another, and instead regarding their brethren as more worthy, they had placed themselves first. The request of James and John to sit on the right and left of Christ’s throne, had excited the indignation of the others. That the two brothers should presume to ask for the highest positions, so stirred the ten that alienation threatened. They felt that they were misjudged, that their fidelity and talents were not appreciated.

Another cause of dissension had arisen. At a feast it was customary for a servant to wash the feet of the guests, and on this occasion preparation had been made for the service. The pitcher, the basin, and the towel were there in readiness for the washing, but no servant was present, and it was the disciples’ part to perform it. But each of the disciples, yielding to wounded pride, determined not to act the part of a servant. All manifested a stoical unconcern, seeming unconscious that there was anything for them to do. By their silence they refused to humble themselves.

How was Christ to bring these poor souls where Satan would not gain over them a decided victory? How could Jesus show that a MERE PROFESSION OF DISCIPLESHIP DID NOT MAKE THEM DISCIPLES, OR INSURE THEM A PLACE IN HIS KINGDOM? How could He show that IT IS LOVING SERVICE, TRUE HUMILITY, WHICH CONSTITUTES REAL GREATNESS? How was He to kindle love in their hearts, and enable them to comprehend what He longed to tell them?

The disciples made no move toward serving one another. Jesus waited for a time to see what they would do. Then He, the divine Teacher, rose from the table. Laying aside His outer garment that would have impeded His movements, He took a towel, and girded Himself. With surprised interest the disciples looked on, and in silence waited to see what was to follow. “After that He poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded” (John 13: 5). This action opened the eyes of the disciples.

Bitter shame and humiliation filled their hearts. They understood the unspoken rebuke, and saw themselves in altogether a new light.

So Christ expressed His love for His disciples. Their selfish spirit filled Him with sorrow, but He entered into no controversy with them regarding their difficulty. Instead He gave them an example they would never forget. His love for them was not easily disturbed or quenched. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He came from God and went to God. He had a full consciousness of His divinity; but He had laid aside His royal crown and kingly robes, and had taken the form of a servant. One of the last acts of His life on earth was to gird Himself as a servant and perform a servant’s task.

Many of us today (not only those in conference church offices) are needing to learn what is defined as humble service. These passages were written primarily, in all fairness, about the experiences of the independent leaders— those chosenand tested by Christ. They were to take a message to the ancient corporate church members and the world especially attended by the power of the early rain at Pentecost. This time and these events are being repeated. We must pass these tests if we are to continue to be Christ’s disciples.

Like Peter and his brethren, we too have been washed in the blood of Christ, yet often through contact with evil the heart’s purity is soiled. We must come to Christ for His cleansing grace. Peter shrank from bringing his soiled feet in contact with the hands of his Lord and Master; but how often do we bring our sinful, polluted hearts in contact with the heart of Christ? How grievous to Him is our evil temper, our vanity and pride? Yet all our infirmity and defilement we must bring to Him. He alone can wash us clean. We are not prepared for communion with Him unless cleansed by His forgiveness and transforming power— God’s grace. We, like Peter, should realize that we must allow the Lord to wash us totally of every defilement. The foot- washing is a symbol or type of the higher cleansing that comes from Christ alone. It represents His work of purification in the life of the sinner. Judas accepted the outward symbol, but refused this higher inward cleansing. Peter was told that without it he would be lost! Here we have two “independent leaders” (versus organized denominational leaders) with two different experiences. Judas knew what needed to be done. Judas was drawn to Christ. But Judas refused to be humbled and he clung to his pride. Judas became possessed by a demon. Peter at first refused the Lord’s offer as well. But Peter became aware that he needed to let go of his pride and he did. Peter became possessed by the Holy Spirit. Two independent ministers: one entered into the cleansing and was saved; one did not and was lost.

Christ would have His disciples understand that although He had washed their feet, this did not in the least detract from His dignity. “Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (John 13: 13), He had said. And being so infinitely superior, He imparted grace and significance to the service.

No one was so exalted as Christ, and yet He stooped to the humblest duty. That His people might not be misled by the selfishness which dwells in the natural heart, and which is strengthened by self- serving, Christ Himself set the example of humility. He would not leave this great subject in man’s charge. Of so much consequence did He regard it, that He Himself— One equal with God— acted as servant to His disciples. While they were contending for the highest place, He to whom every knee shall bow, He whom the angels of glory count it honor to serve, bowed down to wash the feet of those who called Him Lord. He washed even the feet of His betrayer. The system (or individual) that tries to make itself greater than others, because of position or some accomplishment, is not of God. Those who choose to remain self- serving, even though engaged in the “Lord’s work,” will never be in God’s kingdom. God knows the motive of every heart. He requires a life of humble service and this is, in His sight, what is great. He says: “In My kingdom the principle of preference and supremacy has no place. The only greatness is the greatness of humility. The only distinction is found in devotion to the service of others.”

Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals. He, the spotless Lamb of God, was about to present Himself as a sin- offering, and he would thus bring to an end the system of types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to his death. As He ate the Passover with His disciples, He instituted in its place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. The national festival of the Jews was to pass away forever. The service which Christ established was to be observed by His followers in all lands and through all ages.

The Passover was ordained as a commemoration of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. God had directed that, year by year, as the children should ask the meaning of the ordinance, the history should be repeated (see Exodus 12 and 13). Thus the wonderful deliverance was to be kept fresh in the minds of all. The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was given to commemorate the great deliverance wrought as the result of the death of Christ.

He shall come the second time in power and glory, and this ordinance is to be celebrated (see 1 Corinthians 11: 25). It is the means by which His great work for us is to be kept fresh in our minds.

The system of types and ceremonies which were instituted during the time of Moses was a reminder to the people that God had freed them from the bondage of Egypt. These were all ended “forever” at the cross. It had been Jesus who had instructed Moses to institute these types and ceremonies, and it was this same Jesus who ended them. It was also this same Jesus who instituted in the place the service that was to be the memorial of His great sacrifice. He didn’t add to these Old Testament ceremonies, but rather instituted it in their place. There are many well- meaning people who are confused on this issue and are actively confusing others in their attempts to convince them that the Old Testament ceremonies should continue to be observed. What these honest, but misguided folks, apparently don’t realize is that Jesus did away with the Jewish ceremonies that pointed to His coming.

For four thousand years this system, which included the slaying of beasts, had gone on. It had started with Adam and his sons after sin entered the world. At the time of Moses other ceremonies had been added. This is when the Sanctuary service had been instituted as well as all the ceremonies representing the future death of Christ (and a reminder of the release of God’s people the Israelites, from bondage in Egypt).

Christ was standing at the point of transition between two economies. Something was about to change. Something would be set aside forever, and something else— something new— would take the place of the old. Of course, God (Jesus) who had instituted one could replace it with another if He so chose, and this is what He did.

Jesus knew the future. He was about to do away with the system that had been chosen to evangelize the world and properly represent Him to the other nations. He could no longer trust the Jews to witness to the world about Him. They were no longer His “chosen nation.” He was about to fulfil the prophecy Jesus spoke in Matthew 21: 43: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” They had rejected Him and He was forced to let them go their own way. As would be consistent with a continued rebellion against the truth, the Jews refused to accept that Christ had done away with the types and ceremonies that for four thousand years had pointed to his death. But Jesus was moving away from the Jewish leaders. He chose laymen and told them to first re- educate the Jews who would listen, and then go to the Gentiles (Matthew 10: 5,6; Acts 1: 8).

Again, as would be expected, those who had rejected Christ but who were exerting their authority in the “church” rose up against the present truth and steadfastly endeavored to retain and enforce the old. This is what the argument in Acts 15 is all about. This is what Colossians 2 is all about. The Bible plainly reveals that these ceremonies were not to be laid on the Gentiles. The Bible clearly indicates that all these ceremonies are of the past. It has been argued that there is a difference between THE Sabbath and A sabbath. One is the perpetual Sabbath, instituted during creation week before sin entered into the world and will be here after it is gone (see Genesis 2: 3; Exodus 20: 8- 11; and Isaiah 66: 23). The other sabbaths— the seven yearly sabbaths— were instituted as high days and part of the ceremonial laws. These passed away at the cross.

These arguments concerning the feast days and their sabbaths are nothing new. It was argued vehemently by the Apostate church leaders who had killed Christ. They wouldn’t believe Him before the cross and they still didn’t believe Him after the cross! No matter how heated folks may get,it is very obvious in God’s word that Gentiles were not to be yolked with a burden Jesus had blotted out. The Jews were wrong (and still are) to cling to these things and the Orthodox Jew (the old style Jewwho still doesn’t accept Christ as the Messiah) is still lost. He is still keeping the ceremonies. He is still keeping the feast days. He is still keeping all those old sabbaths, but the reason he is doing so is because HE IS STILL REJECTING JESUS!

On the other hand, the Gentiles were NEVER commanded to keep these ceremonies, feast days, or sabbaths (excepting THE Sabbath) because the Apostles rightly understood they had been replaced with the new by Jesus Himself, also the originator of the old. Please don’t miss this point IT WAS ONLY THOSE WHO WERE REJECTING CHRIST WHO TRIED TO FORCE THESE THINGS UPON THE GENTILES. I believe many should and need to restudy this issue and stop trying to make the way of salvation through the methods of the rejected Jewish nation. I do not have to read mounds of “convincing” information from well- meaning but misguided folks to understandand believe the plain words left to us in God’s word.

Now back to the Last Supper. The disciples searched one another’s faces closely as they asked, “Lord, is it I?” Perhaps amid the confusion of questions and expressions of astonishment, Judas had not heard the words of Jesus in answer to John’s question and now, to escape the scrutiny of the disciples, he asked as they had done, “Master, is it I?” Jesus solemnly replied, “Thou hast said” (Matthew 26: 25). In surprise and confusion at the exposure of his purpose Judas rose hastily to leave the room. Only two people knew the true condition, character, and motives of the self- serving Judas. Jesus had labored with Him for three and a half years, but Judas (an independent minister, by the way) would not surrender. He had been “doing God’s work” while he was with the disciples and Jesus. He had a head knowledge of the ways of the Master, and he was on the “front lines.” But Judas refused to enter into that experience which every saved person must have. Judas did not possess the saving knowledge that is vital in a “Christian’s” life. He did not have an experiential knowledge of Christ— a belief in God that is a working faith. A faith that works to transform the life from the inside out. A faith that becomes “practical godliness.” I do what is right not to earn or merit heaven (no human can do this) but because I am already God’s child. He had fooled all the other disciples, but he could not fool Jesus.

Here Christ demonstrates that there is a limit to God’s forbearance and man’s probation in His dealings with this disciple. What we need to learn as professed followers of Christ is that the heavenly principles of truth, mercy, and justice always outweigh human profession and position. It makes no difference what “group” or “camp” you are in as far as this principle is concerned. You can and will be just as lost if you support and follow a person like Judas instead of Jesus.

Though Jesus knew Judas from the beginning, He washed his feet. And the betrayer was privileged to unite with Christ in partaking of the sacrament. A longsuffering Saviour held out every inducement for the sinner to receive Him, to repent, and to be cleansed from the defilement of sin. This example is for us. When we suppose one to be in error and sin, we are not to divorce ourselves from him. By no careless separation are we to leave him a prey to temptation, or drive him upon Satan’s battleground. This is not Christ’s method. It was because the disciples were erring and faulty that He washed their feet, and all but one of the twelve were thus brought to repentance.

Oh, the longsuffering of our Lord! We must learn to love and be long- suffering as Jesus was with Judas. Our motives must constantly be checked. There is a time, of course, when we must let someone go, but I fear that in many cases we “throw people away” far too quickly. Christ let Judas go to do his work of betrayal with deep pity in His heart. He had not carelessly driven Judas onto Satan’s ground. Even in the midst of the battle, the motives of Jesus were pure and noble. He was truly interested in the salvation of souls and not in their destruction. He finds no pleasure in the destruction of His enemies (see Ezekiel 33: 11), and neither will we if we have His Spirit within us.

We have all been the enemies of God and those who have loved God’s pity and forgiveness on their own behalf will not carelessly cast off others. Remember, the bridge of forgiveness you burn may one day be the bridge that you yourself may need to cross.

The communion service points to Christ’s second coming. It was designed to keep this hope vivid in the mind of the disciples. These are the things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its constraining power, is to be kept fresh in our memory. Christ has instituted this service that it may speak to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf. There can be no union between our souls and God except through Christ. The union and love between Christian and fellow Christian must be cemented and rendered eternal by the love of Jesus. It is only because of His death that we can look with joy to His return. His sacrifice is the center of our hope. Upon this we must fix our faith.

As faith contemplates our Lord’s great sacrifice, the soul assimilates the spiritual life of Christ. That soul will receive spiritual strength from every communion. The service forms living connection by which the believer is bound up with Christ and thus bound up with the Father. In a special sense it forms connection between dependent human beings and God.

As we receive the bread and juice of the grape, symbolizing Christ’s broken body and spilled blood, we in imagination join in the scene of communion in the Upper Chamber. We seem to be passing through the garden consecrated by the agony of Him who bore the sins of the world. We witness the struggle by which our reconciliation with God was obtained.

Looking upon the crucified Redeemer, we more fully comprehend the magnitude and meaning of the sacrifice made by the Majesty of heaven. The plan of salvation is glorified before us, and the thought of Calvary awakens living and sacred emotions in our hearts. Praise to God and the Lamb will be in our hearts and on our lips; because pride and self- worship cannot flourish in the soul that keeps fresh in memory the scenes of Calvary. He who beholds the Saviour’s matchless love, will be elevated in thought, purified in heart, transformed in character. He will go forth to be a light to the world, to reflect in some degree God’s mysterious love. The more we contemplate the cross of Christ, the more fully shall we adopt the language of the apostle when he said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galations 6: 14).

Jesus instituted the communion service in order that we would remember Him. We are to keep in our mind that it was with a tremendous struggle that the Father and the Son paid that supreme sacrifice for each of us while we were His enemies: We are also to remember the self- sacrificing life of Christ and the path that He trod alone to Calvary in our stead. We, too, have the same path to travel in our own sphere if we are to share in His glory. And we are not to forget that others are just as precious in heaven’s sight as we are: We are to maintain a sanctified respect for the worth of every soul. The memories of the communion service are to lift us up to higher ground. This ceremony is to lift those who would follow Jesus above the natural inclination toward pride and prejudice of the carnal heart.

Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross

Chapter 6 – Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled ⇒

Bible Study Guide – The Servant of Servants

August 13 – 19, 2017

Key Text

“For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15).

Study Help: The Desire of Ages, 642–651.


“The whole life of Christ had been a life of unselfish service. ‘Not to be ministered unto, but to minister’ (Matthew 20:28), had been the lesson of His every act.” The Desire of Ages, 642.



  •  After assembling in the Upper Room, when the disciples did not take any initiative, what did Jesus do? John 13:4, 5.

Note: “At a feast it was customary for a servant to wash the feet of the guests, and on this occasion preparation had been made for the service. …

“The disciples made no move toward serving one another. Jesus waited for a time to see what they would do. Then He, the divine Teacher, rose from the table. Laying aside the outer garment that would have impeded His movements, He took a towel, and girded Himself. With surprised interest the disciples looked on, and in silence waited to see what was to follow. ‘After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded’ (John 13:5). …

“So Christ expressed His love for His disciples. Their selfish spirit filled Him with sorrow, but He entered into no controversy with them regarding their difficulty. Instead He gave them an example they would never forget.” The Desire of Ages, 644, 645.

  • How did Peter react when Christ wanted to wash his feet? John 13:6–8, first part.

  • What example did Jesus set with this action? John 13:13–16.



  •  Prior to the last supper, how far had Judas yielded to the temptation of Satan? John 13:2.

 Note: “Before the Passover Judas had met a second time with the priests and scribes, and had closed the contract to deliver Jesus into their hands. Yet he afterward mingled with the disciples as though innocent of any wrong, and interested in the work of preparing for the feast. The disciples knew nothing of the purpose of Judas.” The Desire of Ages, 645.

  • What did Jesus know as He washed the feet of Judas? John 13:10, 11.

  • Besides washing their feet, what did Jesus really desire to do for the disciples? John 13:8, last part.

 Note: “The service which Peter refused was the type of a higher cleansing. Christ had come to wash the heart from the stain of sin. In refusing to allow Christ to wash his feet, Peter was refusing the higher cleansing included in the lower. He was really rejecting his Lord. It is not humiliating to the Master to allow Him to work for our purification. The truest humility is to receive with thankful heart any provision made in our behalf, and with earnestness do service for Christ.” The Desire of Ages, 646.

  • What significant words did Jesus pronounce after the feet washing ceremony? John 13:12–17.

 Note: “By the act of our Lord this humiliating ceremony was made a consecrated ordinance. It was to be observed by the disciples, that they might ever keep in mind His lessons of humility and service.

“This ordinance is Christ’s appointed preparation for the sacramental service. While pride, variance, and strife for supremacy are cherished, the heart cannot enter into fellowship with Christ. We are not prepared to receive the communion of His body and His blood. Therefore it was that Jesus appointed the memorial of His humiliation to be first observed.” The Desire of Ages, 650.



  •  How did Jesus identify Himself, and His relationship with the Father? John 14:5–7.

 Note: “Since the first gospel sermon was preached, when in Eden it was declared that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, Christ had been uplifted as the way, the truth, and the life. He was the way when Adam lived, when Abel presented to God the blood of the slain lamb, representing the blood of the Redeemer. Christ was the way by which patriarchs and prophets were saved. He is the way by which alone we can have access to God.” The Desire of Ages, 663.

  • What great possibilities did Jesus offer His disciples? John 14:12.

 Note: “The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them. Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was.

“ ‘And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father’ (John 14:12). By this Christ did not mean that the disciples’ work would be of a more exalted character than His, but that it would have greater extent. He did not refer merely to miracle working, but to all that would take place under the working of the Holy Spirit.” The Desire of Ages, 664.

  • What assurance did Jesus give to the believers? John 14:13, 14.

 Note: “Every sincere prayer is heard in heaven. It may not be fluently expressed; but if the heart is in it, it will ascend to the sanctuary where Jesus ministers, and He will present it to the Father without one awkward, stammering word, beautiful and fragrant with the incense of His own perfection.” The Desire of Ages, 667.



  •  Whom did Jesus promise to send to the disciples? John 14:16–18.

Note: “… from the very beginning of the work of redemption He had been moving upon men’s hearts. But while Christ was on earth, the disciples had desired no other helper. Not until they were deprived of His presence would they feel their need of the Spirit, and then He would come.” The Desire of Ages, 669.

  • How does Christ “live” in the heart of His disciples? John 14:19–23; 1John 3:24.

 Note: “At all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all afflictions, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and we feel helpless and alone, the Comforter will be sent in answer to the prayer of faith. Circumstances may separate us from every earthly friend; but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer.” The Desire of Ages, 669, 670.

  • How would the Comforter influence the memory and understanding of the disciples? John 14:26.

  • What else would the Comforter do in behalf of Christ’s true followers? John 16:12–14.

 Note: “If there is a point of truth that you do not understand, upon which you do not agree, investigate, compare scripture with scripture, sink the shaft of truth down deep into the mine of God’s word. You must lay yourselves and your opinions on the altar of God, put away your preconceived ideas, and let the Spirit of Heaven guide you into all truth.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 413.



  • How does the Bible depict our relationship with Christ? John 15:1–3.

  • What condition is essential to a fruitful Christian life? John 15:4–6.

  • How is true discipleship revealed? John 15:14; 8:31; 13:35.

  • On what condition can we abide in Christ’s love? John 15:9, 10; 1John 2:5; James 4:4, 7, 8; Matthew 4:4.

Note: “God desires to manifest through you the holiness, the benevolence, the compassion, of His own character. Yet the Saviour does not bid the disciples labor to bear fruit. He tells them to abide in Him. ‘If ye abide in Me,’ He says, ‘and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you’ (John 15:7). It is through the word that Christ abides in His followers. This is the same vital union that is represented by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The words of Christ are spirit and life. Receiving them, you receive the life of the Vine. You live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ (Matthew 4:4). The life of Christ in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, adhering to Christ, supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear fruit after the similitude of Christ.” The Desire of Ages, 677.



 1    If I refuse to wash my brother’s feet, what am I actually refusing?

2    What is the inner experience of Judas to me?

3    How am I to be enabled to accomplish the works of Christ?

4    How can I experience more of the peace of Christ?

5    How am I to abide in Christ?

 Copyright © 2004 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.