Two Wise Men

This is not the usual story about the three wise men that brought gifts to Jesus at His birth. This is a story of two wise men that I have learned about over many years and with whom I was personally acquainted.

H.M.S. Richards, Sr. This man was the first graduate from the grade school at Campion, Colorado, in 1909. After studying religion, he became what I consider to be one of the greatest preachers the Seventh-day Adventist denomination has ever produced. He ended up in California in the early 1920s and began his ministry as an evangelist. Back in those days, he would go to a particular town, set up a large tent, and hold a series of meetings every night for six months which equals 180 meetings. Those who stayed with the program also stayed with the church. Back then, there were none of the quick three-week then dunk them members who, in most cases, do not stay with the church.

In 1930 Elder Richards started a radio program called “The Voice of Prophecy” which he broadcast from a small studio that he had built on the rear of his home in Glendale, California. I have had the privilege of being in that small studio, which doubled as his study.

In 1968, I was in college at La Sierra in California, majoring in theology. At that time, I was taking a class by Professor Wilbur Alexander in homiletics, which is the preparation and delivery of sermons. Arrangements had been made for our class of 13 to spend a day with Elder Richards in his home, so early in the morning we all piled into the van and drove to Glendale. There were no freeways in those days and the trip took three hours to drive the 60 miles to his home.

Our class spent a very enjoyable day with Elder Richards, listening to him tell of his many years in the ministry. This was a man who lived what he believed. He shared a vision Ellen White saw in 1906 on a visit to Loma Linda which she never wrote down. The story went something like this.

Mrs. White had been visiting the site of Loma Linda, which she had previously seen in vision, and had said that the site had been chosen by God for the establishment of a medical school. While on her return to Elmshaven, near St. Helena, California, she was standing on the platform of the small train station at Loma Linda with two physicians who were to accompany her when she was suddenly taken off in vision. It was a short vision, lasting less than five minutes. When she came out of the vision, she relayed it to the two young physicians that were with her who wrote it down giving it the title, “A Storm is Coming.” One of these physicians lived until 1961 in Boulder, Colorado. He related this vision many times and the story never changed.

In the vision Mrs. White saw a large field of grain, ripe, ready for harvest. Suddenly the sky turned dark, the wind began to howl, and an enormous hailstorm followed. Every stalk of grain was flattened, and the entire crop was devastated with not one stalk remaining. As she continued to look, suddenly a stalk of grain popped up, then another and another until the field had many new stalks. When she asked the angel messenger what this meant, she was told that the field represented the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The angel said that “everyone who sought after a position in the organization will not be left standing.” The storm represented the time of trouble, and the new stalks represented the people who will step in to assume positions of leadership following the devastation of the church during that time. Only a small remnant will remain to carry on until the very end.

When our group was about to leave, Elder Richards said one thing that I remember clearly from that day with him. He turned to us theology students and said, “whatever you do—please do not degenerate into an administrator.” He may have said that as a result of his knowledge of that little vision of Ellen White in 1906.

Another short story about Elder Richards. One time he was asked about the use of makeup. He paused and then said, “If the barn needs painting, paint it!” Most people take that to mean that it is okay to use makeup. However, what Elder Richards really meant was that if you are so big and ugly as an old barn that you need to cover it up with paint, then you should really do something about getting yourself in shape so that you don’t need to cover it up with paint.

This is a story about Elder H.M.S. Richards, Sr. as told to me personally by his son H.M.S. Richards, Jr. when he was a speaker at the Ohio camp meeting in Mt. Vernon in the late ’70s or early ’80s.

When H.M.S. Richards, Jr. was 15, his father bought a new car, a big Chrysler. In those days, Chryslers had a straight-eight engine. For those who do not know what that is, it is an engine with eight cylinders in a straight line. To house the extra-long engine, the hood of the car was as long as the living room couch. Junior wanted to test drive that big car so badly he could taste it. However, he had been informed by his father that he was not to get behind the steering wheel until he had a driver’s license for which he had to wait one more year until he would be 16.

It came to pass that Junior’s parents were spending the day away from home with some friends. After they left, he thought this would give him a chance to test drive the new car. He would just take it around the block once and reasoned that no one would ever know. So, he got the keys and started very carefully backing out of the driveway into the street. What a thrill it was for him as he drove around the block. Returning to his house he recognized he had a problem; the Richard’s house had been built in the days when the only cars on the road were the size of a Model T Ford. The Chrysler was about twice that size and the driveway was very narrow.

On both sides of the entrance to the driveway were two brick pillars about two feet square and six feet high and as Junior navigated his way into the driveway, he managed to scrape a fender against one of the pillars. The damage was done, and nothing could reverse what had happened. He was literally sick!

Sometime later his parents came home and went into the house without saying a word. Father went into his study and began reading while mother began to prepare supper. After some time, mother called that supper was ready, and when all had sat down father asked the blessing. Still nothing was said about the car. All began eating except Junior who was literally sick to his stomach and unable to eat. After some minutes passed Junior finally blurted out what he had done asking his father if he could ever forgive him. Putting down his fork, his father looked over the top of his thick glasses and replied that he would forgive his son but there would be consequences—Junior would have to pay for the damage. Sin, even forgiven sin, has its consequences. True love is not unconditional.

Often in the churches today there is too much emphasis on love and forgiveness with no mention of consequences. This teaching is exactly what the Roman Catholic Church advocates. The priest in the confessional says, ego te absolve which is Latin for I absolve you. You have not been forgiven—you have been absolved of your sin—unconditional forgiveness with no consequences. It is a free pass to continue sinning. This is a big difference to the truth.

My father once told a story to illustrate this very lesson. My father was an atheist, but still had a very good conscience. Back in 1027 when he was 21 years old, he lived in Chicago and worked for a chain of restaurants by the name of Geiger’s. Each Friday morning, he would drive the company van over to a wholesale meat warehouse to pick up some necessary supplies for the weekend. In this warehouse were large bins full of various prepared meat products such as hamburger, sausages, wieners and the like. My father would load the required amounts on a large scale to be weighed and the appropriate bill was prepared for the purchaser.

Each Friday at the same time he saw another fellow who was there purchasing meat products for several Italian restaurants. It is well known that the majority of Italians are Roman Catholic. While the seller was making out the invoice for this man’s produce and not looking, the man would reach into the bin of sausages and throw another 40 or 50 pounds onto his already weighed amount. Bothered by what he witnessed each week, my father inquired of this Italian man, “Doesn’t your conscience bother you to be stealing every week?” His answer was, “Not in the least. I go to confession every Friday after work.” This gave him a free pass—unconditional forgiveness—no consequences—totally absolved of all responsibility.

However, “There are limits even to the forbearance of God.” The Review and Herald, August 14, 1900.

“The unconditional pardon of sin never has been, and never will be.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 522.

Every sin, no matter how small (there really are no small sins), has consequences. In the very least, each sin affects our estimation of the importance of not sinning. Unconditional forgiveness without consequences diminishes the holiness of God and how totally repugnant sin is to Him. It diminishes the enormity of the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. To make forgiveness into a free pass with no consequences is an abomination to God’s judgment. It presumes upon God’s grace. That is what has been seeping into our church and it is not just the camel’s nose that is under the tent flap—but the entire camel inside!

 Wilbur Alexander was my professor for a number of different classes in theology. Never a godlier man walked this earth than Dr. Alexander. He taught for a number of years at La Sierra/Loma Linda and then went to teach at the seminary at Andrews University. Wilbur grew up in a typical Adventist home. When he reached his teen years, he became restless and rebellious (his own words) with the church. His parents couldn’t reason with him and at age 17, he joined the navy to see the world and “sow his wild oats.” And sow them he did! He ended up in the submarine corps during the Second World War in the Pacific.

As was standard procedure for submarines, it would occasionally dock at a port to replenish supplies. Back then there were no atomic submarines that could stay at sea for months to years and when any naval vessel docks, the crew is given shore leave for a few days, known as “liberty,” and liberty is what the crew would take—all sorts of liberties in every aspect of living. Wilbur told his class that they could not name a liberty in which he did not indulge.

After ten years, the Lord finally got hold of him and he was discharged from the Navy at which time he decided to further his education. As such he became a professor of religion in the Adventist school system where I was privileged to meet him.

One time in our class of 13 as we sat in a circle discussing all sorts of things concerning the church, a student asked him about adornment. Wilbur went through the entire Bible showing us what the Scriptures had to say on the subject. Then it narrowed down specifically to the wedding ring. I am sure in his answer he reflected on his many years in the submarine service. He said that he had learned over many years that invariably in his experience anyone who insisted that they need a wedding ring had a deep-rooted spiritual defect. That defect may not be obvious to human discernment, but visible to God. He described it as a periscope of a submarine. When the periscope is seen sticking up out of the water, you may think that it is just a little thing, but, deep down underneath there is something big and rotten! His conviction was never baptize anyone who insisted on wearing a wedding ring.

Considering these men of God who had great wisdom and understanding, who had such an influence on so many lives, it reminds me that we all should endeavor to leave a legacy of faithfulness so that those within our sphere of influence, and whoever come after us, will be encouraged to follow in the way of Jesus.

The late Gene Swanson was a retired Adventist physician living in Montrose, Colorado, before his passing in 2019.

Bible Study Guides – “Ye Shall Afflict Your Souls”

February 27- March 4, 2000

MEMORY VERSE: “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.

STUDY HELP: Great Controversy, 423–431.

INTRODUCTION: “Says the prophet: ‘Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.’ Malachi 3:2, 3. Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless; their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14. When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing.” Great Controversy, 425.

“The Wonderful Numberer”

1 What prophecy explained the time of the beginning of Christ’s closing work as our High Priest? Daniel 8:13, 14.

NOTE: “Who were these heavenly conversationalists? ‘A certain holy one,’ the questioner was identified as Gabriel. [verse 16] The Other, designated ‘one holy Palmoni’ [see margin] ordered, ‘Gabriel, make Daniel understand.’ The Person was called Palmoni—‘Wonderful’ or ‘Numberer of Secrets.’ This name is formed from two words, pele and mene. Pele indicates things that are extraordinary or miraculous, including God’s wonderful dealings with His people. It is a name of God. Isaiah 9:6. Mene means to tally. Daniel 5: 26.…The meticulous accuracy of the ‘seventy sevens of years’ and the ‘cleansing of the Sanctuary 2300’ and other time lines in Daniel display the precision of the Divine Chronologer. He is the Scorekeeper, Judge and Timekeeper of eternity.” Leslie Hardinge, Jesus is My Judge, 173.
(See also The Faith I Live By, 208.)

2 What work took place when the sanctuary was cleansed? Leviticus 16. (See especially verses 19, 30.)

NOTE: “In the typical system, which was a shadow of the sacrifice and priesthood of Christ, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service performed by the high priest in the yearly round of ministration. It was the closing work of the atonement—a removal or putting away of sin from Israel. It prefigured the closing work in the ministration of our High Priest in heaven, in the removal or blotting out of the sins of His people, which are registered in the heavenly records. This service involves a work of investigation, a work of judgment; and it immediately precedes the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; for when He comes, every case has been decided.” Great Controversy, 352.

“The Lord Shall Suddenly Come to His Temple”

3 What distinction does Paul make between the continual ministry of the priests and the Day of Atonement ministry of the high priest? Hebrews 9:6, 7.

NOTE: “The coming of Christ as our High Priest to the most holy place, for the cleansing of the sanctuary, brought to view in Daniel 8:14; the coming of the Son of man to the Ancient of days, as presented in Daniel 7:13; and the coming of the Lord to His temple, foretold by Malachi, are descriptions of the same event; and this is also represented by the coming of the Bridegroom to the marriage, described by Christ in the parable of the ten virgins, of Matthew 25. The cleansing of the sanctuary…involves a work of investigation—a work of judgment. This work must be performed prior to the coming of Christ to redeem His people; for when He comes, His reward is with Him to give to every man according to his works.’” The Faith I Live By, 207. (See also Patriarchs & Prophets, 426.)

4 How does Malachi picture the work of our great High Priest? Malachi 3:1–6.

NOTE: “The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross.…Through defects in the character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares
to all who would follow Him: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9.…Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them.” God’s Amazing Grace, 69.

“Ye Shall Afflict Your Souls”

5 In the earthly sanctuary, what part did the people play in the work of atonement? Leviticus 16:29–31; Leviticus 23:27, 32.

NOTE: “We are now living in the great Day of Atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the Book of Life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart.” Great Controversy, 489, 490.

6 What choice is placed before all those who live in the time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary? Leviticus 23:27–29, Revelation 3:5.

NOTE: “As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the Book of Life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the Book of God’s Remembrance. All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven. As they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life.” The Faith I Live By, 212. (See also Faith and Works, 75.)

“Five of Them Were Wise and Five Were Foolish”

7 What two groups were found among those who await the coming of Christ? Matthew 25:1–3.

NOTE: See Christ’s Object Lessons, 406–411.

8 How does the Bible describe the two groups within the church? Matthew 13:24–30.

NOTE: “Before the throne was the Advent people, the church, and the world. I saw a company bowed down before the throne, deeply interested while most of them stood up disinterested and careless. Those who were bowed before the throne would offer up their prayers and look to Jesus, then He would look to His Father and appeared to be pleading with Him.…Then I saw an exceeding bright light come from the Father to the Son and from the Son it waved over the people before the throne. But few would receive this great light. Many came out from under it and immediately resisted it. Others were careless and did not cherish the light and it moved off from them. Some cherished it and went and bowed down before the throne with the little praying company. This company all received the light, and rejoiced in it as their countenances shone with its glory. Then I saw the Father rise from the throne and in a flaming chariot go into the Holy of Holies within the veil, and did sit.…Then Jesus rose up from the throne, and most of those who were bowed down rose up with Him. And I did not see one ray of light pass from Jesus to the careless multitude after He rose up, and they were left in perfect darkness. Those who rose up when Jesus did, kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne.…We heard His lovely voice saying, wait ye, I am going to My Father to receive the Kingdom. Keep your garments spotless and in a little while I will return from the wedding, and receive you to Myself.…Then I beheld Jesus as He was before the Father a great High Priest.…And I saw those who rose up with Jesus send up their faith to Jesus in the Holiest, and praying, ‘Father give us Thy spirit.’ Then Jesus would breathe on them the Holy Ghost. In the breath was light, power and much love, joy and peace. Then I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne. They did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne and pray, ‘My Father give us Thy spirit. “Then Satan would breathe on them an unholy influence. In it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy and peace. Satan’s object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God’s children. I saw one after another leave the company who were praying to Jesus in the Holiest, go and join those before the throne and they at once received the unholy influence of Satan.” Day Star, March 14, 1846.

9 What response will the Lord make to the foolish virgins? Matthew 25:11, 12. (See also Matthew 7:21–27.)

NOTE: “These may profess to be followers of Christ, but they have lost sight of their Leader. They may say, ‘Lord, Lord’; they may point to the sick who are healed through them, and to other marvelous works, and claim that they have more of the Spirit and power of God than is manifested by those who keep His law. But their works are done under the supervision of the enemy of righteousness, whose aim it is to deceive souls, and are designed to lead away from obedience, truth, and duty. In the near future there will be still more marked manifestations of this miracle-working power; for it is said of him, ‘And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.’ We are surprised to see so many ready to accept these great pretensions as the genuine work of the Spirit of God; but those who look to wonderful works merely, and are guided by impulse and impressions, will be deceived.” A New Life, 56.

“Who Shall be Able to Stand?”

10 What searching question will be asked of mankind at the last day? Revelation 6:17.

NOTE: “A terrible doom awaits the sinner, and therefore it is necessary that we know what sin is, in order that we may escape from its power. John says, ‘Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law’ 1 John 3:4. Here we have the true definition of sin; it is ‘the transgression of the law.’ How often the sinner is urged to leave his sins, and come to Jesus; but has the messenger who would lead him to Christ clearly pointed out the way? Has he clearly pointed out the fact that ‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ and that he must repent and forsake the breaking of God’s Commandments? God could not alter one jot or tittle of His holy law to meet man in his fallen condition; for this would reflect discredit upon the wisdom of God in making a law by which to govern heaven and earth. But God could give His only-begotten Son to become man’s Substitute and Surety, to suffer the penalty that was merited by the transgressor, and to impart to the repentant soul His perfect righteousness. Christ became the sinless sacrifice for a guilty race, making men prisoners of hope, so that through repentance toward God because they had broken His holy law, and through faith in Christ as their Substitute, Surety, and righteousness, they might be brought back to loyalty to God and to obedience to His holy law.” Faith and Works, 117.

11 What principles will God employ in the judgment? Matthew 7:1–5, Romans 14:10, Matthew 6:14, 15.

NOTE: “We are not forgiven because we forgive, but as we forgive. The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own. Wherefore Christ says, ‘With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.’” Matthew 7:2. Christ’s Object Lessons, 251. (See also Christ’s Object Lessons, 247.)

12 Who are the ones who may have boldness in the day of judgment? 1 John 4:15–21.

NOTE: “We have the Judgment in view. Men and women will want strength that is greater than any human aid to lean upon. They must lean upon the mighty arm of Jehovah. We have in view that day when the works of men are to be tried, and tested; and we want you to get ready. We make appeals to you, in the name of our Master, to get ready. We make appeals to you to rid yourselves of the pride of the world, the pride, and vanity, and folly of life. Jesus loves you. Jesus pities you. The angelic host He sends to minister unto you. And now, while all Heaven is interested for you, will you be interested for yourselves? Will you begin to seek God earnestly for your own salvation? Will you work it out with fear and trembling? Will you be careful how you step before God? Will you have the approbation of Him whose arm moves the universe? Give me the smiles of God, and the approving glance of my Redeemer, and I will give you the whole world besides. Let me have one word of approbation from Jesus, and it is enough. I love Him, for in Him my hopes of everlasting life are centered. I love His word and His requirements. I love to do His will. And only let me know what my duty is, and I am ready to perform. It is my meat and drink.” Review and Herald, August 17, 1869.

“We have reason ever to thank God that He knows all the storms, disappointments, and trials that come upon His people. He follows them through every experience, with tender, pitying love, and expresses His desire to heal our wounds, and restore unto us the joy of His salvation. Jesus has said, ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’ There is but one channel of light, but that is always accessible to us, and through that channel flow streams of forgiveness and love. The streams of God’s mercy can cleanse the darkest stain, bring peace to the greatest sinner.” Signs of the Times, August 28, 1893.

Imputed and Imparted

The two words, imputed and imparted, are seldom used these days, yet they are so meaningful in God’s plan of salvation. The Lord has impressed me to devote this presentation to an understanding of imputed and imparted righteousness so we may be ready to meet Jesus when He comes.

As we read the following statement by Ellen White from the Review and Herald, June 4, 1895, we can see that there is a vast difference between imputed and imparted righteousness. “The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven; the second is our fitness for heaven.”

In Ephesians 5:27, God describes His church:

“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

I am sure that each of us has at some time visited a home where the carpets were spotless and had just been vacuumed. The walls had recently been painted, and there were no dirty dishes in the sink. How beautiful the windows were as well; they were so clean that they just sparkled in the sunlight. In the bedroom, the bedspread was without a wrinkle. In fact, the entire house was so clean and inviting that you would have liked to live there.

In this text, God is not describing the carpets or the windows or the furnishings, for we are the church He is describing. As individuals God has a final objective for each of His people. He wants every member to become holy and without blemish. When this objective is realized, His church will become glorious, without spot or wrinkle. Praise God! This will be accomplished, for we read, in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification.”


Before we study imputed and imparted righteousness, let us study the process of sanctification, for sanctification is the means that God will use to accomplish His glorious purpose for His church. God’s sanctification process brings holiness within us, and holiness is righteousness. Let me be a little more specific. A righteous person is an individual who has experienced the giving of himself wholly and without reserve both in mind and body to God so that through the power of the Holy Spirit God is able to transform the character to become spotless in Christ Jesus.

Allow me to use a Bible illustration to make this process so simple that even the children can understand. Let us take the example of John, a disciple of Christ. Usually we think of him as a most loving disciple; and artists always seem to picture John as leaning on the bosom of the Saviour, looking up into the face of Jesus with tenderness, love, and compassion. But I have news for you! This was not the nature of John’s character when Jesus called him to be a disciple. The Spirit of Prophecy describes John as having a violent spirit. (See The Acts of the Apostles, 557.)

You and I are acquainted with violence. We lock our car doors and make sure the windows are up when we travel through some of our large cities. One never knows when some thug will try to open your car door when you stop at a traffic light and thrust a gun in your face.


John had a violent spirit, which Jesus was able to change. The Saviour daily warned, cautioned, and reproved John. How did John react to such reproof? He discovered his deficiencies, and he humbled himself. John resisted his evil tendencies and used every possible energy to overcome. Slowly, but surely, John made progress. He yielded his resentful, ambitious temper to the molding power of Christ.

Are you struggling with an evil temper? Do not give up! God can give you the victory just as John obtained a loving character. The secret key to John’s change of character is found in the fact that he desired to be like Jesus. He wanted the love of Christ to completely transform him. Thus God was able to do a work of sanctification within him, and the results were amazing.

This “Son of Thunder,” as the Bible describes him in Mark 3:17, was someone to fear. Before he met Jesus, he was the kind of a fellow about whom, if you saw him coming down the street toward you, your first inclination would be to step into a store or turn down a side street to avoid meeting him, for you never knew what he might do.

John permitted Christ to completely change his life. Later in life God was able to give him a divine revelation in which he beheld the ascended Redeemer in heaven. Christ was able to give him a mighty revelation of end-time events, revealing to him the final destruction of Satan’s kingdom. It was the sanctifying power of God that changed John from a violent sinner to a loving saint.

In contrast, let us examine the life of another disciple, Judas. This fellow attained only a form of godliness in his daily walk with Jesus. Judas likewise observed the same patience, meekness, and tenderness expressed by Jesus; but Judas would not humble himself. Instead of desiring a change in his life, he resisted the divine love. He refused to acknowledge his failures.

John and Judas represent the two classes of individuals that are found in God’s church today. Both classes profess to believe.

While John warred earnestly against his faults, Judas daily violated his conscience. He chose to yield to temptation rather than yield his will to Christ. In doing so, he refused the wisdom of heaven. Judas chose to walk in darkness. Secretly he cherished evil desires, even covetousness, filling his mind with sullen thoughts. Worst of all, he harbored doubt as to whether Christ was the Son of God.


Will you permit me to pause here and briefly address doubt? Some years ago, when I was the youth director of the Southern Union Conference (Decatur, Georgia), I often met a young man by the name of Walter Rae. He was a young minister who attended workers’ meetings where I spoke. I discovered that between meetings he liked to gather a group of the young ministers around him and tell them of his latest discoveries in the writings of Ellen White in which she had used the same words as some other author, thus creating doubt about her inspired writings.

I took this young man aside and told him that if he continued to cast doubts upon her writings that some day he would lose confidence and become an enemy of God’s truth. How well I remember his answer: “Why, Elder Nelson, I believe Ellen White’s writings. She was a prophet of God. I would never, never turn against her writings.”

But I firmly insisted, “If you continue to dwell upon doubt, mark my words, you will someday become an enemy of God’s mouthpiece.” After years of such doubt, he finally wrote the book, The White Lie (M&R Publications, Turlock, California, 1982), denying the validity of the ministry and the writings of Ellen White.

I plead with you; you cannot harbor doubt and remain committed to God. So it was with Judas. He continued to doubt Christ’s claim to be the Son of God, and Satan finally gained a full control of Judas—even while he was a professed believer and one of His disciples.

Equal Opportunities

I hope my comparison of these two disciples has alarmed you, for both had the same opportunity to study the divine pattern. Both were daily associated with Christ. Both listened to Christ’s teachings. Both possessed serious defects in their characters. Both had the same access to divine power. But mark the difference. John surrendered his life to become more and more like Jesus. He became a doer of the Word. John became sanctified through his faith in Christ while, on the other hand, Judas resisted the transforming power of grace and was finally brought into the bondage of Satan while still professing to be a disciple of Christ.

Forgive me, but I must ask you this question, Are you a John or a Judas? I know you have been attracted to Jesus or you would not be reading this magazine. You have become a professed believer in Him, so you are actually a disciple of Christ. But I must ask you again, Are you a John or a Judas? Oh, how I trust that you are a John in your daily life, that you are permitting Christ’s righteousness to daily sanctify you by His transforming grace.

Abiding in His Love

When we want an example of what sanctification can accomplish, we look to John who, by experience, teaches in his Book of 1 John 3:3, “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” Such an experience is accomplished through submission to the will of God. This is why John said, in 1 John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”

We must never be satisfied with empty profession, for sanctification can be summarized in these words penned by Ellen White: “As God is holy in His sphere, so fallen man, through faith in Christ, is to be holy in his sphere.” The Acts of the Apostles, 559.

The secret of attaining such a goal in this life is to be continually abiding in the love of God. John learned this by experience. In 1 John 4:16 we read, “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Yes, it is that simple. When Christ abides in the heart, the life will reveal practical godliness. The character will become purified. Pure doctrine will blend with works of righteousness. Heavenly precepts will mingle with holy practice. This is what we call sanctification. It is a lifelong experience.

Lifelong Experience

“Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience. . . .

“So will it be with all who behold Christ. The nearer we come to Jesus, and the more clearly we discern the purity of His character, the more clearly shall we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the less shall we feel like exalting ourselves. There will be a continual reaching out of the soul after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the heart before Him. At every advance step in our Christian experience our repentance will deepen. We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ alone and shall make the apostle’s confession our own: ‘I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.’ ‘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.’ Romans 7:18; Galatians 6:14.” Ibid., 560, 561.

Difference Between

This brings us to the core of our subject. In this salvation process, what is the difference between imputed and imparted righteousness? Inspiration answers this question with the clearest definition I have ever found. “The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven; the second is our fitness for heaven.” Review and Herald, June 4, 1895,

Let us define the meaning of these two words. Imputed means, “to instantly credit to one’s account.” Imparted means, “to give daily from one’s abundance to another.” Imputed takes place instantly; imparted takes place continually, even for a lifetime.

Now we are ready to closely examine the phrase “imputed righteousness.” This is the term used to explain what takes place when we ask God for forgiveness for past sins that we have confessed. Because He instantly justifies us by imputing Christ’s righteousness to our record of sins, therefore we can stand before God as though we have never sinned. Because of this, God gives us a title to heaven.

An Allegory

Permit me to illustrate further, for I want you to grasp what is actually involved by using this allegory of myself. Let us say that I am a young, married man with a wife and two small children to support, but I have a problem—I have lost my job. I am having difficulty finding another job. In the meantime, the house rent is in arrears, and my wife tells me there is no more food in the house. The cupboards are bare. The children are hungry.

Fortunately I have a small savings account, so I go to the bank to get some money with which to buy food and pay some of the pressing bills. I stand in line waiting my turn. Finally I approach the teller’s window with my withdrawal slip in my hand. I have signed my name on the slip, and I hand it to the teller, asking for $100. The lady at the teller window has a strange look on her face. In fact she looks troubled. Finally she says, “Mr. Nelson, I cannot give you the $100 because you have already overdrawn your account in this bank for $100. In fact, you owe the bank $100.”

“What!” I am stunned. I had no idea I was in that much financial trouble. Not only am I out of a job and I have many bills, such as the house rent, but now I owe the bank! Today my children are hungry. What am I going to do?

Behind me, in the same line, is a very godly man who knows me, for I have worked for him from time to time. God has greatly blessed this gentleman with much, and he has helped many in their time of need. Seeing my dilemma, he steps forward and speaks to the teller, saying, “Take a hundred dollars out of my account and credit it to this man’s account.” I can hardly believe my ears! Instantly I do not owe the bank a penny. My account is paid in full. This friend has imputed credit from his account to my account. In other words, he has given me something that is not my own, yet when credited to my account, it cancels my debt. I turn around with a big smile and a handshake. I thank this godly gentleman and walk out of the bank, but then I stop. It is almost too good to believe.

As I pause to grasp the situation and decide what to do to get some food for my family, this same kind, loving man comes up and puts his arm around my shoulder. With the other hand he places a hundred dollar bill in my hand and says, “Mr. Nelson, you are still in need. Your children are hungry. Go to the market and buy the needed food.” How can I show my gratitude and my thanks to this man?

In this allegory, we have discovered the meaning of imputed and imparted righteousness. This man tells me that I am in need of much more help. He tells me, “This is what I want you to do. Each morning, call me on the telephone and tell me how much you need for the day as long as you are in need of help.” Thus, my daily needs are met by this good man. He imparts to me each day just what I need to meet my necessities. I cooperate with him by calling him daily. Then I take care of my business needs such as shopping.

How God Provides

This is exactly how God provides for the sinner’s need. Not only does He instantly impute forgiveness for our sins of the past, while canceling our debts, but He covers these sins with Christ’s righteousness. This gives us title to heaven, yet we need something more. We need the imparted righteousness of Christ for a daily sanctification, for when the righteousness of Christ is applied to our hearts, it gives us power to daily overcome all temptations and sins. Furthermore, through this sanctification process, we become victorious Christians, for the Holy Spirit is able to daily fit us for heaven where we will never sin again.

Christ demonstrated in His daily life while He was on earth how this is to take place. “Christ’s humanity was united with divinity, and in this strength He would bear all the temptations that Satan could bring against Him, and yet keep His soul untainted by sin. And this power to overcome He would give to every son and daughter of Adam who would accept by faith the righteous attributes of His character. . . .

“He showed that the sinner, by repentance and the exercise of faith in the righteousness of Christ, can be reconciled to God, and become a partaker of the divine nature, overcoming the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 223, 224.

What a power this is that is available to all of us! Ellen White states also that, “Men may have a power to resist evil—a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place them where they may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in them.” Ibid., 409.

Lesson of the Virgins

Let us recall the story of the ten virgins. The story of the ten virgins illustrates the experience of the church that shall live just before Christ’s Second Coming. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 406.) This refers to you and to me.

Read Matthew 25:1–10: “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish. They that [were] foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, [Not so]; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”

Difference Between

Though not apparent at first, there is a vast difference between the wise group and the foolish group. “The foolish virgins do not represent those who are hypocritical. They had a regard for truth, they advocated the truth, they were intending to go forth to meet the bridegroom. They are attached to those who believe the truth, and go with them, having lamps, which represent a knowledge of the truth. When there was a revival in the church, their feelings were stirred; but they failed to have oil in their vessels, because they did not bring the principles of godliness into their daily life and character. They did not fall upon the rock Christ Jesus, and permit their old nature to be broken up. . . .

“Practical piety will not be attained by giving the grand truths of the Bible a place in the outer courts of the heart. The religion of the Bible must be brought into the large and the little affairs of life. It must furnish the powerful motives and principles that will regulate the Christian’s character and course of action.” Review and Herald, September 17, 1895.

In this same passage, the wise virgins are described as follows: “Those who earnestly search the Scriptures with much prayer, who rely upon God with firm faith, who obey his commandments, will be among those who are represented as wise virgins.” Ibid. The wise virgins keep God’s commandments through faith.

The foolish virgins were not truly born again; their old natures were not broken up. They had neither imputed nor imparted righteousness. They may have had periods in their lives when they were justified and were being sanctified, but this did not continue. “The foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 411. They had not the indwelling Holy Spirit to furnish the powerful motives and principles that would have influenced their actions and changed their characters. Alas, while they loved the truth, had good intentions, and even taught the truth, they did not follow the example that Jesus had demonstrated.

The Foolish

Now, let us consider the foolish virgins further down the stream of time. We will note that the difference between the two groups widens and becomes more apparent. During the “tarrying time,” the lamps of the foolish virgins grew dim and went out. If the lamps in the parable represent a knowledge of the truth, as stated by Ellen White, what then does this mean?

Ellen White tells us that the foolish virgins become agents of Satan to utter his falsehoods and transmit his darkness: “The enemy has men in our ranks through whom he works, that the light which God has permitted to shine upon the heart and illuminate the chambers of the mind may be darkened. There are persons who have received the precious light of the righteousness of Christ, but they do not act upon it; they are foolish virgins. They prefer the sophistry of the enemy rather than the plain ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ When the blessing of God rested upon them in order that they might become channels of light, they did not go forward from light to a greater light; they permitted doubt and unbelief to come in, so that the truth which they had seen, became an uncertainty to them.” Review and Herald, August 19, 1890.

“Those who hide their light will soon lose all power to let it shine. They are represented by the foolish virgins; and when the crisis comes, and the last call is made, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him’ [Matthew 25:6], they will find that while they have been mingling with the world, their light has gone out. They did not continue to provide themselves with the oil of grace. The peace-and-safety cry hushed them to slumber, and made them careless in regard to their light.” Ibid., August 23, 1898. Though the foolish virgins had heard the precious message of the righteousness of faith, of justification and sanctification by faith, they had not acted upon it.

As we near the end of time, the foolish virgins in the church grow more and more careless as they mingle with the world and allow doubt and unbelief to ensnare them. Not until the crisis comes suddenly upon them will they realize that their lamps of truth have gone out, that the truth, which they once embraced, has become to them obscure and uncertain.

Instead of presenting truth to the world, they will have been proclaiming Satan’s errors—such as the New Theology and that which takes place in Celebration. Is not this the part of the parable of the ten virgins being fulfilled in our very midst this very day? “Testing times come to all. How do we conduct ourselves under the test and proving of God? Do our lamps go out? or do we still keep them burning?” Ibid., September 17, 1895.

The Wise

Consider the facts. The five wise virgins had extra oil for their lamps. When asked by the foolish virgins to give them some of their oil, they refused. Why? Because the oil of the Holy Spirit changes the character by its sanctifying process. Therefore, the wise virgins had been fitted for heaven and were ready for the bridegroom. “That oil is the righteousness of Christ. It represents character, and character is not transferable. No man can secure it for another. Each must obtain for himself a character purified from every stain of sin.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 234. Now you can understand why the wise virgins could not give of their oil.

A Personal Experience

Our fitness for heaven is obtained through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is a lifelong process in which Christ’s righteousness is imparted to our characters daily, just as the need arises. This is a personal experience and cannot be transferred. Husbands cannot go to heaven on their wives’ characters just as wives cannot go to heaven on their husbands’ characters. When children reach the age of accountability, they cannot go to heaven on their parents’ characters. We must each individually have a daily infusion of the imparted righteousness of Christ in an experience with Jesus.

I feel like shouting this far and wide and praising God, for He has provided for each of us complete salvation. It is found in imputed righteousness, which is instantly available when we ask for forgiveness of past confessed sins, and He will impart His righteousness for our daily needs when we ask in faith. Ellen White expressed it this way: “Christ bears the penalty of man’s past transgressions [this is imputed righteousness], and by imparting to man His righteousness, makes it possible for man to keep God’s holy law.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentaries, vol. 6, 1092.

What About You?

Beloved, are you a wise virgin? Are you aware of these precious gifts of righteousness? Are you daily pleading with God for His righteousness? Are you permitting the imparted righteousness to daily transform your character? Are you living each day in anticipation of the soon-coming Saviour, when you may go to heaven with Him where you will never sin? Are you preparing to live in the presence of the sinless, holy angels? Remember, this ultimate experience will take place for the wise virgins when the latter rain is poured out, for this will fit them for translation.

“Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness [the Holy Spirit], and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 187.

“The heavenly character must be acquired on earth, or it can never be acquired at all.” Maranatha, 46.

Pray that God will reveal any unconfessed sins to you that you may claim His imputed righteousness to cover such sins by being repentant and asking for forgiveness. Daily seek a fitness for heaven through His imparted righteousness that you may be among the wise virgins and become fitted to live without sinning.

For over 60 years Pastor Lawrence Nelson served as an evangelist and minister for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of that time, he served 13 years as the director of evangelism for youth at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Upon retirement from the General Conference, he continued to pastor, but when, as a result of his stand for truth, he was denied the opportunity to continue his pastorate, he started Keep the Faith Audio Tape Ministry, recording his sermons and making them available to individuals. Before his retirement from this ministry in 2004, over 18,000 audio tapes were being sent around the world each month.

Bible Study Guides – Rock or Sand—Your Choice

March 14, 2010 – March 20, 2010

Key Text

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 1, 416, 417; The Faith I Live By, 314.


“Here is the greatest deception that can affect the human mind; these persons believe that they are right when they are wrong.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 417.

1 Who will enter into the kingdom of heaven? Matthew 7:21.

Note. “Christ declares that those who do His words are like a man who built his house upon a rock. This house the tempest and flood could not sweep away.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 368.

“Christianity is simply living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. We are to believe in, and live in, Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. We have faith in God when we believe His word; we trust and obey God when we keep His commandments; and we love God when we love His law.” The Review and Herald, March 25, 1902.

2 Those who profess to know God but deny Him in works are described in what way? Titus 1:16; I John 2:4.

Note. “These may profess to be followers of Christ, but they have lost sight of their Leader. They may say, ‘Lord, Lord’; they may point to the sick who are healed through them, and to other marvelous works, and claim that they have more of the Spirit and power of God than is manifested by those who keep His law. But their works are done under the supervision of the enemy of righteousness, whose aim it is to deceive souls, and are designed to lead away from obedience, truth, and duty.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 975, 976.

3 What ground did the wise man, who heard the Lord’s words and did them, build his house upon? Matthew 7:24.

Note. “To a great extent everyone is the architect of his own character. Every day the structure more nearly approaches completion. The Word of God warns us to take heed how we build, to see that our building is founded upon the Eternal Rock. The time is coming when our work will stand revealed just as it is. Now is the time for all to cultivate the powers that God has given them, that they may form characters for usefulness here and for a higher life hereafter.

“Faith in Christ as a personal Saviour will give strength and solidity to the character. Those who have genuine faith in Christ will be sober-minded, remembering that God’s eye is upon them, that the Judge of all men is weighing moral worth, that heavenly intelligences are watching to see what manner of character is being developed.” Child Guidance, 164, 165.

4 What ground did the foolish man, who did not follow the Word of God, build his house upon? Matthew 7:26.

Note. “With some the knowledge of their true state seems to be hidden from them. They see the truth, but perceive not its importance or its claims. They hear the truth, but do not fully understand it, because they do not conform their lives to it, and therefore are not sanctified through obeying it. And yet they rest as unconcerned and well satisfied as though the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, as token of God’s favor, went before them. They profess to know God, but in works deny Him. They reckon themselves His chosen, peculiar people, yet His presence and power to save to the uttermost are seldom manifested among them. How great is the darkness of such! yet they know it not. The light shines, but they do not comprehend it.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 406, 407.

5 The result of professing to keep the law of God, yet walking contrary to the principles of that law is seen in which house? Matthew 7:26, 27.

Note. “Those who do not do Christ’s words are like the man who built his house upon the sand. Storm and tempest beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. It was an entire wreck. The result of professing to keep the law of God, yet walking contrary to the principles of that law, is seen in the wrecked house. Those who make a profession while failing to obey cannot stand the storm of temptation. One act of disobedience weakens the power to see the sinfulness of the second act. One little disregard of a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is sufficient to stop the promised blessing of the Holy Spirit. By disobedience the light once so precious becomes obscure. Satan takes charge of the mind and soul, and God is greatly dishonored.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 368, 369.

6 The foolish virgins and the stony ground hearers that had no root are parallels with the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. Matthew 13:5, 6. How would you explain a plant with no root in comparison with the foolish virgins and the foolish man?

Note. “Jesus explained this part of the parable as referring to a certain class of hearers. He said: ‘He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended’ [Matthew 13:20, 21]. This class of hearers is again represented by the parable of the foolish builder. Jesus says, ‘Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it’ [Matthew 7:26, 27].

“The seed sown upon stony ground finds little depth of soil in which to take root.” The Review and Herald, June 7, 1892.

7 A fool is not obedient to the Laws of God, is lacking in discernment or comprehension which comes from God and so describes a foolish virgin or a foolish builder. What does the Word of God say about a fool and what they have become? Psalm 53:1–3.

Note. “He who would build up a strong, symmetrical character must give all and do all for Christ. The Redeemer will not accept divided service. Daily he must learn the meaning of self-surrender. He must study the Word of God, getting its meaning and obeying its precepts. Thus he may reach the highest standard of Christian excellence. There is no limit to the spiritual advancement that he may make if he is a partaker of the divine nature. Day by day God works in him, perfecting the character that is to stand in the day of final test. Each day of his life he ministers to others. The light that is in him shines forth and stills the strife of tongues. Day by day he is working out before men and angels a vast, sublime experiment, showing what the gospel can do for fallen human beings.” In Heavenly Places, 148.

8 A hearer of the law will listen and enjoy all that is said but has not been rendered just, or justified and therefore his house is built on sand. Why has he not been set free or rendered just? Romans 2:13.

Note. “In the lives of many whose names are on the church books there has been no genuine change. The truth has been kept in the outer court. There has been no genuine conversion, no positive work of grace done in the heart.” In Heavenly Places, 148.

9 A doer of the law is a performer, or accomplishes in thoughts, words and actions, what he has heard. Has the doer been rendered just or set free? Where is his house setting? Romans 2:13.

Note. “We should bear in mind that it is not the hearers of the law that are justified before God, but the doers of the law. If the principles of God’s law rule in our hearts, we shall have the spirit of Christ; we shall manifest in our daily life that mercy which is better than sacrifice. Every Christian must be a learner in the school of Christ; and there is need of diligent and persevering effort to reach that standard of righteousness which God’s word requires.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 232.

“The question of deepest interest to each one should be, Am I meeting the requirements of the law of God? … Only by a close examination of self in the light of God’s Word can we discover our deviations from His holy rule of right.” Lift Him Up, 342.

10 Wouldn’t it be terrible to think our foundation is all right when it is not? Our thoughts, words and actions are fruits flowing from our foundation. Matthew 7:20. On what foundation is your house sitting?

Note. “No stronger delusion can deceive the human mind than that which makes them believe that they are right, and that God accepts their works, when they are sinning against Him. They mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof. They suppose that they are rich, and have need of nothing, when they are poor, wretched, blind, and naked, and need all things.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 406, 407.

Additional Reading

“Those who obtain eternal life must give evidence to the world that they love God with all the capabilities that He has given them. They are to obey the two supreme commands, which embody all the whole law, acknowledging by their course of action that they are doers of the law.” The Upward Look, 367.

“The end of all things is at hand. The Lord is soon coming. Already his judgments are abroad in our land. We are not only to talk of Christ’s coming, but in every action, we are to reveal the fact that he is soon to be manifested in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Have we the wedding garment on? Have we personal piety? Have we co-operated with divine agencies, in a whole-hearted, unreserved manner, in weaving into our life’s practices the divine principles of God’s holy law? It is one thing to talk the law, and it is another thing entirely to practice it. It is the doers of the law that shall be justified before God; for those who do the law represent the character of God, and lie not against the truth.” Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, vol. 3, 12.

“Those who claim modern sanctification would have come boastingly forward, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, do you not know us? Have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works’ [Matthew 7:22]? The people here described, who make these pretentious claims, apparently weaving Jesus into all their doings, fitly represent those who claim modern sanctification, but who are at war with the law of God. Christ calls them workers of iniquity, because they are deceivers, having on the garments of righteousness to hide the deformity of their characters, the inward wickedness of their unholy hearts. Satan has come down in these last days, to work with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. His satanic majesty works miracles in the sight of false prophets, in the sight of men, claiming that he is indeed Christ Himself. Satan gives his power to those who are aiding him in his deceptions; therefore those who claim to have the great power of God can only be discerned by the great detector, the law of Jehovah. The Lord tells us if it were possible they would deceive the very elect. The sheep’s clothing seems so real, so genuine, that the wolf cannot be discerned only as we go to God’s great moral standard and there find that they are transgressors of the law of Jehovah.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1087, 1088.

Lesson Studies were prepared by Judy Hallingstad of the LandMarks staff. She can be contacted at .


Wisdom is “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.” Wisdom goes beyond knowing all the options available; it provides the ability to differentiate between the options and pick the best solution. In the Bible there are many things written about wisdom. In my personal study I have been looking at the books of Daniel and Proverbs which actually have a bit to say about wisdom.

Daniel and Wisdom

God gave Daniel wisdom.

“As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

Now at the end of the days, when the king had said that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among them all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; therefore they served before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.” Daniel 1:17–20.

Again, when Daniel was older, we read how the people in the kingdom of Babylon remembered his wisdom. “The queen, because of the words of the king and his lords, came to the banquet hall. The queen spoke, saying, ‘O king, live forever! Do not let your thoughts trouble you, nor let your countenance change. There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the Spirit of the Holy God. And in the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, were found in him; and King Nebuchadnezzar your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers. Inasmuch as an excellent spirit, knowledge, understanding, interpreting dreams, solving riddles, and explaining enigmas were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar, now let Daniel be called, and he will give the interpretation.’ ” Daniel 5:10–12.

Did Daniel’s wisdom and intelligence come by chance? Daniel was not only wise in the things of God, he was wiser than all the wise men in Babylon. At this time Babylon was a world empire with the best and smartest people from all over the world. It is quite something that Daniel was wiser in all aspects of life than the wisest people on earth in the biggest empire at that time. This was because of God’s blessing.

“The case of Daniel was presented before me. Although he was a man of like passions with ourselves, the pen of inspiration presents him as a faultless character. His life is given us as a bright example of what man may become, even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities and privileges within his reach. Daniel was an intellectual giant; yet he was continually seeking for greater knowledge, for higher attainments. Other young men had the same advantages; but they did not, like him, bend all their energies to seek wisdom—the knowledge of God as revealed in His word and in His works.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 569.

God wants people in the world today like Daniel who are wise and intelligent. “Many of our young men might today be intellectual giants, had they not been content to reach a low level. Those who do not love to study, are ever in great danger of becoming dwarfs in spiritual and mental growth. They consider that they have a moderate understanding of Scripture subjects, and they cease to investigate, cease to plow deep that they may obtain all the treasures of knowledge possible. Instead of cultivating studious habits, they yield to inclination, and are content to skim the surface, without going with energy to the bottom of the question under consideration. Those who have this superficial manner of study would not be prepared to meet an opponent in discussion should one oppose them. They penetrate only deep enough into a subject to meet the present emergency, and to conceal the real ignorance of their lazy minds. Gradually this course causes hesitancy, dwarfs the comprehension, and bars the way to successful effort.” The Review and Herald, April 6, 1886.

“But few reach what they might in excellence of character, because they do not make their aim high. Prosperity and happiness will never grow of their own accord. They are the acquisition of labor, the fruit of long cultivation.” This Day With God, 190.

“The Bible is the best book in the world for intellectual culture.” Reflecting Christ, 163.

“It is a law of the mind, that it will narrow or expand to the dimensions of the things with which it becomes familiar. The mental powers will surely become contracted, and will lose their ability to grasp the deep meanings of the word of God, unless they are put vigorously and persistently to the task of searching for truth. The mind will enlarge, if it is employed in tracing out the relation of the subjects of the Bible, comparing scripture with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual. Go below the surface; the richest treasures of thought are waiting for the skillful and diligent student.” The Review and Herald, July 17, 1888.

So many times when we look at the life of Daniel we focus on the fact that he ate good food. That is part of it and that is good. As you read the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy you realize that it was more than just eating right; it was God’s blessing and a balance of physical and mental work that enabled Daniel to have the wisdom that he did. There has to be balance in the physical, mental and spiritual in our lives. Daniel had this balance in his life which put him in a place where God could use him.

“Daniel and his companions had been faithfully instructed in the principles of the word of God. They had learned to sacrifice the earthly to the spiritual, to seek the highest good. And they reaped the reward. Their habits of temperance and their sense of responsibility as representatives of God called to noblest development the powers of body, mind, and soul. At the end of their training, in their examination with other candidates for the honors of the kingdom, there was ‘found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.’ Daniel 1:19.” Education, 55. [Emphasis supplied.]

If you want to be balanced mentally, you need to be balanced spiritually and physically. One cannot just work the mind. The body also needs exercise and communion with our Father in Heaven.

“We are to learn how to equalize the labor done by brain, bone, and muscle. If you put to task the faculties of the mind, loading them with heavy burdens, while you leave the muscles unexercised, this course will tell its story just as surely as the wise course of the Hebrew youth told its story. Parents should follow a consistent course in the education of their children. Our youth should be taught from their very childhood how to exercise the body and the mind proportionately. It is not wise to send the children to schools where they are subject to long hours of confinement and where they will gain no knowledge of what healthful living means. Place them under the tuition of those who respect the body and treat it with consideration.” The Review and Herald, February 10, 1910. [Emphasis supplied.]

“Right physical habits promote mental superiority. Intellectual power, physical strength, and longevity, depend upon immutable laws.” Our High Calling, 269.

God gave Daniel wisdom, but Daniel put effort into gaining wisdom. Daniel had a balance in his life between the mental and physical.

The Book of Proverbs and Wisdom

Proverbs tells us where wisdom comes from. It says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. See Proverbs 1:7; 2:6; 9:10, 11.

Solomon tells us that wisdom is a valuable thing to have. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom, And the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, And her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, And all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, And happy are all who retain her.” Proverbs 3:13–18.

The book of Proverbs gives us lots of characteristics of wise people. Here are a few:

  • Wise people receive instruction and reproof—Proverbs 9:8, 9; 10:8; 15:31–33.
  • Wise people listen to counsel—Proverbs 12:15; 13:10.
  • Wise people are humble—Proverbs 11:2.
  • Winning a soul is wise—Proverbs 11:30.
  • Wise people study how to speak to others wisely—Proverbs 12:18; 14:3; 16:23; Ecclesiastes 10:12.
  • Wise people speak of knowledge—Proverbs 10:31; 15:2, 7.
  • If you associate with the wise you will be wise—Proverbs 13:20.
  • Wise people seek knowledge and understanding—Proverbs 14:33; 18:15; 22:17.
  • Reproof gives wisdom to a child—Proverbs 29:15–17.

Worldly Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom

Paul talks about wisdom of this world versus God’s wisdom. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” I Corinthians 1:20–30.

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” I Corinthians 3:18, 19. To the world, Christianity is not wise but foolishness. The things that God tells us to do in the Bible sound crazy from a worldly point of view. I mean, give up everything to gain everything sounds pretty strange by worldly standards. As humans we have a tendency to think that we are wise. The wise, men in Daniel’s day claimed to be wise but when it came down to it, the God in Heaven had all the wisdom and the wise men didn’t have answers.

Human wisdom and engineering is not always wisdom. Sometimes the greatest achievements that man in his wisdom thinks are wise, turn out to be disastrous. I took a class when I was going to the University about engineering ethics. In this class we had many examples of engineering mistakes that had cost the lives of a lot of people. We think that we are so smart with all of our technology but, in fact, we make many mistakes in judgment before we get things engineered right. We need to realize that the only true wisdom comes from the Source of wisdom, and that is God. The wisdom of this world has many times turned out to be false.

When I was in college a teacher asked the question, “How do you know what is right or wrong? Who defines what is right or wrong?” He had a point that if you don’t believe in a God of all wisdom who has defined right and wrong, how do you know what is right? In the Bible there is wisdom that tells us what is right and what is wrong. Today, society really doesn’t know the difference. The other day I heard someone who was a polygamist saying that if a homosexual person can be married, why is it illegal for a polygamist to be married to more than one person? If you don’t have a Bible that tells you what is right and wrong in regard to marriage, that man would have a point. Worldly wisdom does not have the answers for hard moral questions, but the Bible does.

“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” I Corinthians 2:6–8. The Christian religion is the wisest religion to be a part of because we serve the God of all wisdom.

Wisdom is something that we all need to know to deal with people, problems, situations, and to know what is the right moral thing to do in a situation. Wisdom will keep us from evil. The Bible is full of wisdom. The book with special tips on wisdom is Proverbs. God’s wisdom sounds like foolishness to the world, just like it did in Noah’s day. God needs wise people who are willing to expand their intellect as Daniel did. Wisdom can also help to exert a powerful influence in the world as Daniel and his friends were able to in the kingdom of Babylon.

A network engineer, Jana Grosboll lives in Derby, Kansas. She may be contacted by email at:

Children’s Story – A Good Foundation

Johnny and his family had decided to move to a nice quiet area but just could not find the right house to purchase so they decided to rent a little house until they could build their own. It was made a matter of prayer that God would help them to find just the right location in which to buy land.

As they searched, Johnny saw all kinds of interesting places that he thought would make pleasant play areas that would be fun for him to invite his friends. His mom and dad had other priorities and decided on a piece of land way up on a hill which was not really easy to get to and covered in big rocks. As a family they prayed again that God would help them design and build a secure new home. Even though it was not Johnny’s choice of location, he was happy with their decision. He loved to see his mom and dad happy, because it made him happy too. He always asked God to help him to be happy and thankful at all times.

About this time, another family moved in next door to the home that Johnny’s family had rented. He was so excited to meet their son Teddy who was the same age as himself and they became very good friends, sharing many happy times together.

Teddy’s parents also planned to build their own home and Johnny often accompanied them while they looked for land. He was amazed to see how Teddy’s parents were so influenced by what he wanted. In fact, the land that they purchased was the very block that Teddy wanted. Johnny also noticed that Teddy got his way far too much and when he didn’t he was sometimes very disrespectful to his parents.

But now Teddy was very excited and boasted about all of the grassland where he could run and play. Johnny struggled as he compared this to the land that his parents had bought which was just full of rocks and hard to get to. It was not a good time for him at all as he struggled with jealousy and the thought that Teddy was much better off than he was and he really had to pray that God would help him to be content.

Construction started on the two houses. Teddy’s house was going up very quickly, first the foundation, then the walls, and in no time at all it was finished and the family was able to move in. Johnny was often invited over to play in the large, grassy yard. Oh, they had so much fun!

The house on the hill seemed to be so slow in building and Johnny started getting angry with his parents and becoming unhappy with all of their decisions. Then he realized that he was acting just like Teddy so he prayed that both he and Teddy would be more respectful to their parents.

Johnny enjoyed the closeness of working with his father and helped wherever he was able, learning from his experience how to carefully make sure everything was strong and secure. It seemed as though their house took forever while Teddy and his family had long since moved into their home. Finally the home on the hill was finished and with great excitement they were able to move in. He and Teddy had such fun climbing up and down the hills and rocks. In fact, Johnny enjoyed the terrain on the hill far more than at Teddy’s house on the flat.

Winter was now settling in and the weather had deteriorated. Johnny was so glad he felt safe in his fine warm, sturdy home on the hill.

But down on the flat land Teddy was not too sure about his. It was kind of cold and the house did not seem too sturdy when the winds blew. One night the rain came down so hard and the wind roared that it was just terrible! The river rose and soon filled Teddy’s yard with water and the house shook from the wind so much that the family had to evacuate.

Johnny’s parents made sure that Teddy’s family was all safe and comfortable in their home during the storm.

On returning the next morning they found their home in shambles. The wind had blown it to pieces and the flood water had destroyed most of their belongings. Everything was lost!

How grateful now was Johnny that his parents had taken the time and care to build such a secure home that it could withstand the storm. Jesus once talked about a house built high up among the rocks. The steep hillside was difficult to climb, and less accessible than the smooth valley below which was clothed with green grass and springing flowers. But on this low ground was pointed out a house that was now in ruins. It had appeared to stand strong until the wind and storm came and destroyed it.

Read what Jesus said in Matthew 7:24–27: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

Johnny’s house represents the one that the wise man built.

If you obey His word, Jesus will consider you like the wise man who built his house upon the rock. Each time you obey, you are building on the sure foundation just like Johnny’s family did and when the storm came, they were safe and you will be safe also.

Are You Wise?

“There is a time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance.”

Ecclesiastes 3:4

There is a time for everything. The devil has been very successful at this present time in getting people so confused that they laugh when they should cry, and they cry when they should laugh. This is very common in our society.

When I was a child, everybody understood that when you went to a funeral, that was the time to mourn. Today, it is announced at funerals that those attending are there to have a celebration, which is completely out of context. A funeral is not the time to have a celebration. The Bible speaks of death as an enemy, of which Jesus came to destroy and there is no Biblical record of anybody having a celebration at a funeral. When Jesus attended Lazarus’ funeral, Jesus did not laugh; He wept. People in this generation today are very confused—a funeral is not a time to laugh; it is a time to weep.

Consider the situation written about in Isaiah 22:12, 13: “In that day the Lord God of Hosts called for weeping and for mourning, For baldness and for girding with sackcloth. But instead, joy and gladness, Slaying oxen and killing sheep, Eating meat and drinking wine: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

The Lord said for that situation it is time to be mourning but the people said we are going to have a celebration. And the Lord said to go ahead. Then He said, “That your iniquity will not be forgiven until the day of your death.” Verse 14. In other words, you just passed sentence on yourselves.

There is a time for joy and gladness but there is also a time to mourn. We have just read how dangerous it is when people decide they are going to laugh when God says it is time to mourn.

If God were to make a lament, would it be time to mourn or to laugh? It would be time to mourn, because God always does the right thing at the right time.

Matthew 23:33–39 describes God lamenting. Jesus, speaking to the leaders of the Jewish church, says, “Serpents, and brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, Then on you will come all of the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar [II Chronicles 24]. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you are not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate [spoken as He departed from the temple for the last time]; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord [after the millennium at the resurrection of the wicked]!”

Another example of God’s lament is found in Luke 19:41–44: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known, even you, especially this in your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you do not know the times of your visitation.’ ”

It says there that as Jesus saw the city, He wept over it. Looking into the future He saw the destruction of Jerusalem, but that was not all He saw. The destruction of Jerusalem was a type of the end of the world.

In The Review and Herald, October 8, 1901, Ellen White wrote: “When the Saviour saw in the Jewish people a nation divorced from God, He saw also a professed Christian Church united to the world and the papacy. And as He stood upon Olivet, weeping over Jerusalem till the sun sank behind the western hills, so He is weeping over and pleading with sinners in these last moments of time. Soon He will say to the angels who are holding the four winds, ‘Let the plagues loose; let darkness, destruction, and death come upon the transgressors of my law.’ Will He be obliged to say to those who have had great light and knowledge, as He said to the Jews, ‘If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes’ [Luke 19:42]?”

As Jesus wept over Jerusalem, “He saw also a professed Christian Church united to the world and the papacy.” It is alarming to look around and see how Seventh-day Adventists are becoming afraid to be different. We want to be accepted so much that we are willing to do anything to be accepted by the World Council of Churches, by the government, or by other churches. The danger of this is that just as all of the other churches are becoming united with the papacy, eventually, so will we be united.

Ellen White, in vision, saw what was going to happen in Adventism in the last years of this world’s history. “In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for Israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 379.

God promised Israel many blessings if they would obey His voice. Ellen White said the leaders, instead of obeying God, listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer. Because the leaders in the past were listening to the voice and policy of Lucifer, God could not do for them all that He wanted to.

This is what is going to happen in the future. “This experience, [the leaders of God’s people not obeying His voice but listening to the voice and policy of Lucifer] will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God, who have been established by His grace and power.” Ibid.

Remember what happened to them? Because God could not do for them what He wanted to because the leaders listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer and did not obey, they had to go into captivity. This experience is going to be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God who have been established by His grace and power.

These people are Seventh-day Adventists. She goes on to say, “Men whom He has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel.” Ibid. Then is quoted Hebrews 3:7–13 and Mrs. White continues saying, “Bear this in mind. History is being repeated. The perils that God’s people encountered in past ages, they will encounter again, intensified. Satan has obtained influence over men whom God has honored above all human intelligence, as He honored Solomon.” Ibid., 380. Then she quotes Hebrews 2:1–3.

God’s lament in the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy 5:29. God is speaking to Moses and He says, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all of My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” God lamented that if they would only have listened, they would have been spared what they ultimately had to go through. Moses saw the children of Israel being taken into captivity. The Lord did not want that to happen but they would not listen. Moses also saw in vision before he died the children of Israel being brought under the power of Rome.

In Deuteronomy 32:29 God says, “Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, That they would consider their latter end!” In verse 28 God laments that His people do not understand. He says, “Oh, I wish they were wise.”

The wise are going to shine as the stars forever. The children of Israel went out of Egypt with 600,000 men. Of those men, only two were wise and went into the land of Canaan. Noah prayed and preached for 120 years, but only eight people entered into the ark. In all of history, the wise have always been few in number. When the world comes to an end, are you going to be one of those who are wise and heed the warnings, or are you going to be part of the big majority? This is a question we all must ask ourselves. Am I one of the few wise ones? The Bible says that great men are not always wise (Job 32:9).

Some Principles of Wisdom

“Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them.” Hosea 14:9.

If you are wise, you already know that the ways of God are right. Foolish people do not know that.

Job 28:12–28 asks this question: Where can you find wisdom? It seems to be hidden from everybody. You cannot buy it and people do not have it. Death and destruction say they have heard a report about it. How are you going to get it? God knows what it is. If you want to get started it says, “ ‘The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ” Verse 28. That expression is found in more than one place in the Bible. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.” Psalm 111:10.

The fear of the Lord is wisdom. Moses taught the children of Israel the statutes and judgments in Deuteronomy 4:5. Then in verse 6 he says, “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the people who will hear all these statutes, and will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ ”

Moses said if you keep the statutes and the laws that the Lord has given me to give to you, the whole world will find out that you are a wise and understanding people. When you study history and compare the laws that Moses gave to the children of Israel with the laws of the other nations at that time, you will find out right away how superior were the Laws of God.

Wisdom is something that cries out to people. The Bible describes that in a number of different places. In Proverbs 8:1 it says, “Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice?” Verse 7: “My mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.” Verse 8: “All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.” Verse 11: “For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one can desire cannot be compared with her.” Verses 35, 36: “Whoever finds me finds life, And obtains favor from the Lord; But he who sins against me wrongs their own soul; All those who hate me love death.”

Wisdom was with God from the beginning. There never was a time when that wisdom did not exist [verses 22, 23]. Solomon says this same thing in Ecclesiastes 7:12, that if you get wisdom it will do something for you that riches will not do. It says, “For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” If you get wisdom you will have life, eternal life.

Where is all wisdom? The Bible says wisdom is hidden. You cannot buy it. “The knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and Christ, in whom are hidden all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2, last part. Christ has been manifested to the people of this world, not only as the Son of God, but as the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30).

All the wisdom in the universe is hidden in the Father and the Son. Where and how do we get this wisdom?

Matthew 25:1–13 is a description of the experience of the church, God’s people, who are living in the evening of earth’s history. Here Jesus is talking about His church in the last days and He said that there were some who were wise and some who were foolish. These were all virgins and all had a pure faith and they all had a lamp which represents the Bible. In Psalm 119:105 it says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” These virgins are all people who have a pure faith and they have the Bible and they know the truth. The difference was that the wise virgins took extra oil. The foolish virgins also had some oil but they did not take any extra and they were not prepared for an emergency.

There was a great delay. These virgins were not expecting the wedding to be between 12:00 and 1:00 in the morning; they were expecting it to be a lot sooner than that. The wise virgins were prepared for an emergency and had extra oil. Zechariah 4:1–14 tells us that the oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the fuel, the power, which makes it possible for your light to shine.

The difference between those who were wise and those who were foolish is that the wise had the Holy Spirit and the foolish did not. Does that give you and me cause to pause?

The foolish virgins went to church and they were known as commandment keepers. They were known as people who had a pure faith. They were known as people who were waiting for the bridegroom to come but when He finally arrives they are not ready, because they do not have the Holy Spirit.

We need a wisdom that you cannot get from this world. The Bible says that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. It is possible to get all the wisdom of this world and yet not be ready for Jesus to come. You can know Greek, Hebrew, church history and systematic theology and all about the Bible and still not be ready for Jesus to come. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes faith real. A lamp with oil sheds light but if there is no oil, there is no light.

When the Holy Spirit dwells within, you will become wise; not necessarily what the world calls wise because the Lord says the world’s wisdom is foolishness with Him. If you want to be wise and understand what to do and when to do it in this, the most deceptive time in earth’s history, then you must have the Holy Spirit or you will be among the foolish virgins.

Paul says in I Corinthians 12:7, 8, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit.” The Spirit ordains for certain people in the church to receive special gifts and the first gift that Paul mentions is the gift of wisdom.

This is a gift that everybody in the church can receive because it says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5. The way to become wise is simply to ask.

As we are approaching the end of earth’s history, the whole universe is looking down at this world to find out something that God’s true church is going to reveal. What is it that God’s true church is going to reveal to the whole universe?

In Ephesians 3:8–11 Paul says,

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul said that the many sided (manifold) wisdom of God is going to be made known even to principalities and powers in heavenly places by the church.

Even though the early church, the Ephesians church, had all this information, they didn’t do it. The early church predicted it, the apostles predicted it and Jesus predicted it and as the apostles died away the early church tobogganed into apostasy. For ages, people in heaven and people on this earth in the church have asked the question, “How is this ever going to happen?”

In the time of the Protestant reformation, people looked around at the church and said, How is the manifold wisdom of God going to be revealed to the people in heaven through this? The people said that the church needs to be revived. Even the pope, bishops and theologians said it. In fact, at the Council of Constance in 1414 one of the major things of concern was to bring revival and reformation to the church because they said the church was in a terrible condition.

The best thing that Council could figure out to do was to burn John Huss at the stake, demonstrating the church’s method of trying to bring revival and reformation. They said that Huss was a troublemaker and when you study religious history, God has had this problem with His professed people over and over again.

In 1888 the leaders in the Adventist church looked for a way to have a revival and reformation. They said they had a couple of troublemakers named Jones and Waggoner. They decided not to let Jones preach in an Adventist church, but Ellen White said God had sent these men to the Adventist church with their message of reformation. Because the church would not let him speak in an Adventist church, when Jones was in Battle Creek Mrs. White and others had to rent a hall so he could speak.

Anywhere you go today and talk to God’s professed people they will tell you of the need for revival and reformation. When God sends somebody to bring it, they try to get rid of them. God’s professed people today are going through a terrible shaking and people are asking if the church will ever survive.

Only the wise will survive, and the wise are the people who know that God’s ways are right. If God says something, they will do it and if He says not to do something, they will not do it. The wise have that figured out. Are you one of the wise?

The wise have the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible so are able to see the spiritual meanings. Other people read and do not understand. There are theologians all over the world, who have spent their whole lives studying church history, Hebrew, Greek and theology and do not even know that Jesus is coming again. It does not matter how much you study; if the Holy Spirit does not enlighten your mind, you will not be among the wise. Real wisdom comes from God through the enlightenment of His Holy Spirit. Will you be among the wise? At the end of this world’s history Ellen White says there is going to be a group of people who will reveal the character of Jesus Christ fully. This is an astonishing statement and it is possible to be one of those people. This group will be in the minority. Remember, Jesus said that in the end it will be like the days of Noah and the days of Lot, but there will be a group of people who will become like Jesus Christ. They will have that heavenly wisdom and will understand how to live.

Am I becoming wise? The Bible describes what wisdom is. Listed below are some characteristics of wisdom:

  • A person who is wise is humble (Proverbs 11:2).
  • A person who is really wise understands what to do (Proverbs 10:23; Proverbs 14:8; Proverbs 14:33).
  • A person who is really wise obtains counsel (Proverbs 13:10).
  • A person who is wise is a person who has experience. In Job 12:12 it says that wisdom is with aged people. Why? Because they have had more experience than the young people. There is no mechanism by which you can take the wisdom of age and put it into a young person.

In this world a lot of people think that if you are over 30 you are over the hill. If this world did not have some people who were over 30 for some advice and counsel and understanding, we would be a lot worse off than we are now.

Even now, some in the Adventist church think that you can put a young person in charge of anything and if anybody goes against that they are accused of opposing the young people. The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy are very clear that a more mature person is needed than those without experience. You cannot become wise when you are just 15 or 20 years old. To become wise it requires experience and experience takes time.

The children of Israel had rulers and they called them the elders and that term is still used today. The word elder means an old man.

A person who is really wise will build on the rock (Matthew 7:24). When the Lord tells a wise person something, he will realize that God has lived a lot longer than he has and so He has a lot more wisdom. If God tells him something he will listen even if he cannot figure it out. A wise child will realize that his/her parents have more experience and heed their counsel. A wise person builds on the rock and listens to what the Lord says and obeys. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; And he who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30. He who wins souls is wise. Nobody is going to heaven alone. If you are one of God’s children, God will use you to win at least one other person and most of the time He will use you to win many more than one. If you are not involved in doing anything for outreach to help other people or to help somebody else find salvation, Ellen White says you are not even written down in the book as a Christian. You may go to church but if you are not doing anything to win anybody to Christ, you are not a Christian. You are not wise at all.

There are people without any education or training and who are in obscure areas of the world who are reaching out. If you are wise you will be doing something to reach out to somebody.

  • The Bible says that the words of a wise person are gracious.
  • A wise person does not practice partiality. They do not treat rich people and poor people differently. Ellen White says that Jesus makes no difference between His friends and His enemies. To me that is one of the most astonishing statements in the Spirit of Prophecy. He will love you and try to appeal to you and try to win you (The Desire of Ages, 86).
  • A wise person will contend with foolishness. In the book of Proverbs there are many descriptions of what folly and foolishness is. A wise person will contend with foolishness and not just sit around and watch it (Proverbs 29:9). No practicing of partiality can be found in Proverbs 23.
  • A wise person holds his feelings back; he just does not tell you everything that is on his mind (Proverbs 29:11).

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

Bible Study Guides – Diligence

April 24, 2011 – April 30, 2011

Key Text

“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 6, 176–187; Ibid., vol. 9, 30–48.


“We must labor as does the husbandman, with diligence and patience, that we may be partakers of the fruits.” The Signs of the Times, April 14, 1890.


  • What is causing many people today to be dissatisfied and discontented with life? Proverbs 13:4; 18:9; 11:24.
  • How does God teach us the value of diligent work? Proverbs 10:16; 13:11.

Note: “The parents of Jesus were poor, and dependent upon their daily toil. He was familiar with poverty, self-denial, and privation. This experience was a safeguard to Him. In His industrious life there were no idle moments to invite temptation. … “Jesus lived in a peasant’s home, and faithfully and cheerfully acted His part in bearing the burdens of the household. He had been the Commander of heaven, and angels had delighted to fulfill His word; now He was a willing servant, a loving, obedient son. He learned a trade, and with His own hands worked in the carpenter’s shop with Joseph. In the simple garb of a common laborer He walked the streets of the little town, going to and returning from His humble work. He did not employ His divine power to lessen His burdens or to lighten His toil.” The Desire of Ages, 72.


  • What are some important observations we can make by studying God’s tiny creatures? Proverbs 6:6–8; 30:25–28.

Note: “The wisest of men may learn useful lessons from the ways and habits of the little creatures of the earth. The industrious bee gives to men of intelligence an example that they would do well to imitate. These insects observe perfect order, and no idler is allowed in the hive. They execute their appointed work with an intelligence and activity that are beyond our comprehension. The ants, which we consider as only pests to be crushed under our feet, are in many respects superior to man; for he does not as wisely improve the gifts of God. The wise man calls our attention to the small things of the earth [Proverbs 6:6–8; 30:25 quoted]. We may learn from these little teachers a lesson of faithfulness. Should we improve with the same diligence the faculties which an all-wise Creator has bestowed upon us, how greatly would our capacities for usefulness be increased. God’s eye is upon the smallest of His creatures; does He not, then, regard man formed in His image and require of him corresponding returns for all the advantages He has given him?” Testimonies, vol. 4, 455, 456.

“The habitations that the ants build for themselves show wonderful skill and perseverance. Only one little grain at a time can they handle, but by diligence and perseverance they accomplish wonders. Solomon points to their industry as a reproach to those who waste their hours in sinful idleness, or in practices that corrupt soul and body. The ant prepares for future seasons. Many who are gifted with reasoning powers entirely disregard this lesson, and fail entirely to prepare for the future life.” The Youth’s Instructor, September 14, 1899.

  • Name some ways in which we may be slothful without realizing it. Proverbs 24:30–34.

Note: “Many waste hours of precious time in bed because it gratifies the natural inclination and to do otherwise requires an exertion. One hour wasted in the morning is lost never to be recovered.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 181.


  • What does the Bible teach on agriculture, and why is it so valuable today? Proverbs 27:18; Ecclesiastes 5:9; 3:1, 2.

Note: “No line of manual training is of more value than agriculture. A greater effort should be made to create and to encourage an interest in agricultural pursuits. Let the teacher call attention to what the Bible says about agriculture: that it was God’s plan for man to till the earth; that the first man, the ruler of the whole world, was given a garden to cultivate; and that many of the world’s greatest men, its real nobility, have been tillers of the soil. … He who earns his livelihood by agriculture escapes many temptations and enjoys unnumbered privileges and blessings denied to those whose work lies in the great cities. And in these days of mammoth trusts and business competition, there are few who enjoy so real an independence and so great certainty of fair return for their labor as does the tiller of the soil.

“In the study of agriculture, let pupils be given not only theory, but practice. While they learn what science can teach in regard to the nature and preparation of the soil, the value of different crops, and the best methods of production, let them put their knowledge to use.” Education, 219.

“The time is not far distant when the laws against Sunday labor will be more stringent, and an effort should be made to secure grounds away from the cities, where fruits and vegetables can be raised. Agriculture will open resources for self-support, and various other trades also could be learned. This real, earnest work calls for strength of intellect as well as of muscle. Method and tact are required even to raise fruits and vegetables successfully. And habits of industry will be found an important aid to the youth in resisting temptation.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 322.

“Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one.” Selected Messages, Book. 2, 141.

  • What instruction is given regarding sharing the harvest? Leviticus 23:22, 28.


  • Besides reaping the fruits of the soil, in what other type of harvest are we to be engaging? John 4:34–38.

Note: “Christ sees a plentiful harvest waiting to be gathered in. Souls are hungering for the truth, thirsting for the water of life. Many are on the very verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in.” Temperance, 258.

  • Along with the men, of what are women to be reminded with regard to sowing the seeds of truth? Galatians 3:28.

Note: “The Lord of the vineyard is saying to many women who are now doing nothing, ‘Why stand ye here all the day idle’ [Matthew 20:6]? They may be instruments of righteousness, rendering holy service. It was Mary who first preached a risen Jesus; and the refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth now. If there were twenty women where now there is one who would make the saving of souls their cherished work, we should see many more converted to the truth. Zealous and continued diligence in the cause of God would be wholly successful, and would astonish them with its results. The work must be accomplished through patience and perseverance, and in this is manifested the real devotion to God. He calls for deeds, and not words only.” The Signs of the Times, September 16, 1886.

  • How will our heavenly Father be disappointed at us if we neglect this duty and privilege? Proverbs 10:5, 26.
  • What is the result of dwelling on obstacles and hindrances? Ecclesiastes 11:4. How are we encouraged to diligently persevere in our labors? Ecclesiastes 11:6; 7:8.

Note: “You may say, I have tried to save this one and that one, and they have only wounded me, and I am not going to try to help them any more. But do not become discouraged if they do not at once return to the fold. Reach out still for your fellow mortals around you. You shall reap if you faint not.” Our High Calling, 178. [Emphasis author’s.]


  • Describe the depth of God’s persevering love even for the erring. Song of Solomon 8:6, 7. How was this shown in Christ’s attitude toward Judas?

Note: “The narrowing selfishness of Judas’ life, Christ sought to heal through contact with His own self-sacrificing love. In His teaching He unfolded principles that struck at the root of the disciple’s self-centered ambitions. Lesson after lesson was thus given, and many a time Judas realized that his character had been portrayed, and his sin pointed out; but he would not yield. …

“ ‘Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.’ John 6:64. Yet, knowing all, He had withheld no pleading of mercy or gift of love.

“Seeing the danger of Judas, He had brought him close to Himself, within the inner circle of His chosen and trusted disciples. Day after day, when the burden lay heaviest upon His own heart, He had borne the pain of continual contact with that stubborn, suspicious, brooding spirit; He had witnessed and labored to counteract among His disciples that continuous, secret, and subtle antagonism. And all this that no possible saving influence might be lacking to that imperiled soul! [Song of Solomon 8:7, 6 quoted.]

“So far as Judas himself was concerned, Christ’s work of love had been without avail. But not so as regards his fellow disciples. To them it was a lesson of lifelong influence. Ever would its example of tenderness and long-suffering mold their intercourse with the tempted and the erring.” Education, 92, 93.

Review and Thought Questions

1 What must we understand about common, everyday labor?

2 What can we learn from the bees and the ants?

3 Name some special advantages enjoyed by the farmer.

4 When our missionary efforts seem to be fruitless, what should we remember?

5 What was gained by Christ’s treatment of Judas?

Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Our Neighbor

April 17, 2011 – April 23, 2011

Key Text

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17.

Study Help: Education, 84–96; The Desire of Ages, 637–641.


“Many think that it is impossible to love our neighbor as ourselves, but it is the only genuine fruit of Christianity.” Welfare Ministry, 49.


  • What is to govern our fellowship among believers? Proverbs 17:17; 30:5; Galatians 6:10.

Note: “He [Christ] should be presented as the Source of all true pleasure and satisfaction, the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the Author of every blessing, the One in whom all our hopes of eternal life are centered. In every religious exercise let the love of God and the joy of the Christian experience appear in their true beauty.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 175.

  • What is God’s plan for our relationship with one another in church capacity? James 2:8; John 17:21; Proverbs 18:24.

Note: “He who is conformed to the image of Christ will possess his grace, and will help to strengthen every brother in the faith. No harsh or bitter words that discourage the soul will fall from his lips. ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’ ‘Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.’ ‘Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way. … Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ [II Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 2:3; Hebrews 12:12–14].” The Review and Herald, February 23, 1897.


  • What principle of service should we keep in mind regarding all our fellowmen? Proverbs 27:10, first part.

Note: “Among the Jews the question, ‘Who is my neighbour’ [Luke 10:20]? caused endless dispute. They had no doubt as to the heathen and the Samaritans. These were strangers and enemies. But where should the distinction be made among the people of their own nation and among the different classes of society? …

“This question Christ answered in the parable of the good Samaritan. He showed that our neighbor does not mean merely one of the church or faith to which we belong. It has no reference to race, color, or class distinction. Our neighbor is every person who needs our help. Our neighbor is every soul who is wounded and bruised by the adversary. Our neighbor is every one who is the property of God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 376.

  • What can we learn from the way God’s infinite wisdom was manifested in the ministry of Jesus? Proverbs 11:30.

Note: “Jesus looked upon the world in its fallen state with infinite pity. He took humanity upon Himself that He might touch and elevate humanity. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He reached to the very depth of human misery and woe, to take man as He found him, a being tainted with corruption, degraded with vice, depraved by sin, and united with Satan in apostasy, and elevate him to a seat upon His throne. But it was written of Him that ‘He shall not fail nor be discouraged’ [Isaiah 42:4], and He went forth in the path of self-denial and self-sacrifice, giving us an example that we should follow in His steps. We should work as did Jesus, departing from our own pleasure, turning away from Satan’s bribes, despising ease, and abhorring selfishness, that we may seek and save that which is lost, bringing souls from darkness into light, into the sunshine of God’s love. We have been commissioned to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 199.


  • What are we always to bear in mind regarding the poor? Proverbs 14:21; 19:17, 22. How did Jesus explain His perspective on this matter? Matthew 25:31–46.

Note: “To the rich, God has given wealth that they may relieve and comfort His suffering children; but too often they are indifferent to the wants of others. They feel themselves superior to their poor brethren. They do not put themselves in the poor man’s place. They do not understand the temptations and struggles of the poor, and mercy dies out of their hearts. In costly dwellings and splendid churches, the rich shut themselves away from the poor; the means that God has given to bless the needy is spent in pampering pride and selfishness. The poor are robbed daily of the education they should have concerning the tender mercies of God; for He has made ample provision that they should be comforted with the necessities of life. They are compelled to feel the poverty that narrows life, and are often tempted to become envious, jealous, and full of evil surmisings. Those who themselves have not endured the pressure of want too often treat the poor in a contemptuous way, and make them feel that they are looked upon as paupers.

“But Christ beholds it all, and He says, It was I who was hungry and thirsty. It was I who was a stranger. It was I who was sick. It was I who was in prison. While you were feasting at your bountifully spread table, I was famishing in the hovel or the empty street. While you were at ease in your luxurious home, I had not where to lay My head. While you crowded your wardrobe with rich apparel, I was destitute. While you pursued your pleasures, I languished in prison.” The Desire of Ages, 639, 640.

“We should seek to understand the needs of the poor and distressed, and to give them the help that will benefit them most. To give thought and time and personal effort costs far more than merely to give money. But it is the truest charity.” The Ministry of Healing, 195.

  • Describe an example of how the impartiality of our love may be tested. James 2:1–9.


  • What better future can we present to the discouraged? Proverbs 10:28; I Thessalonians 4:13–18.

Note: “We are to bring to the lost the tidings that Christ can forgive sin, can renew the nature, can clothe the soul in the garments of His righteousness, bring the sinner to His right mind, and teach him and fit him up to be a laborer together with God.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 199.

  • What should we remember about wealthy persons who know not God? Ecclesiastes 6:1, 2; Proverbs 11:4; 13:22.

Note: “Riches and worldly honor can not satisfy the soul. Many among the rich are longing for some divine assurance, some spiritual hope. Many long for something that will bring to an end the monotony of their aimless life. Many in official life feel their need of something which they have not. Few among them go to church, for they feel that they receive little benefit. The teaching they hear does not touch the heart. Shall we make no special appeal to them?

“God calls for earnest, humble workers, who will carry the gospel to the higher classes. It is by no casual, accidental touch that the wealthy, world-loving souls can be drawn to Christ. Decided personal effort must be put forth by men and women imbued with the missionary spirit, those who will not fail nor be discouraged.” The Review and Herald, April 6, 1911.

  • How are we to consider those who hate and abuse us? Proverbs 24:17; 25:21. What was Jesus’ example?

Note: “It was to bring the bread of life to His enemies that our Saviour left His home in heaven. Though calumny and persecution were heaped upon Him from the cradle to the grave, they called forth from Him only the expression of forgiving love.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 71.


  • How can we have safety from evil company? Proverbs 2:1–15. How did Enoch maintain his strength in service?

Note: “It was by prayer and communion with God that Enoch was enabled to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. We are living in the perils of the last days, and we must receive our strength from the same Source. We must walk with God. A separation from the world is required of us, for we cannot remain free from its pollution unless we follow the example of the faithful Enoch.” In Heavenly Places, 70.

“Enoch faithfully rehearsed to the people all that God had revealed to him by the spirit of prophecy. Some believed his words, and turned from their wickedness to fear and worship God. Such often sought Enoch in his places of retirement, and he instructed them, and prayed for them that God would give them a knowledge of His will. At length he chose certain periods for retirement, and would not suffer the people to find him, for they interrupted his holy meditation and communion with God. He did not exclude himself at all times from the society of those who loved him and listened to his words of wisdom; neither did he separate himself wholly from the corrupt. He met with the good and bad at stated times, and labored to turn the ungodly from their evil course, and instruct them in the knowledge and fear of God. He taught those who had the knowledge of God to serve him more perfectly.

“He would remain with them as long as he could benefit them by his godly conversation and holy example, and then would withdraw himself from all society—from the just, the scoffing and idolatrous, to remain in solitude, hungering and thirsting for communion with God, and that divine knowledge which he alone could give him.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 62, 63.

Review and Thought Questions

1 What is to characterize our Christian fellowship?

2 Name some ways in which we are to follow Jesus.

3 How can we improve our attitude toward the poor?

4 What do we often forget about the wealthy?

5 Describe the balanced life of Enoch.

Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – In the Heart and Home

April 10, 2011 – April 16, 2011

Key Text

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” Song of Solomon 2:4.

Study Help: Education, 259–261; The Ministry of Healing, 356–362.


“His [Christ’s] is a love that fails not nor forsakes.” Education, 90.


  • Name some interesting truths which inspired poetry declares about love. Proverbs 10:12; 15:17.
  • What are we to understand about the source, power, and result of love? I John 4:7–19; Proverbs 7:2.

Note: “By contemplation of God’s matchless love, we take upon us His nature. Christ was a representative before men and before angels, of the character of the God of heaven. He demonstrated the fact that when humanity depends wholly upon God, men may keep God’s commandments and live, and His law be as the apple of the eye.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 226.

  • In view of this great love offered to us, what should be the cry of our soul? Song of Solomon 1:7; Psalms 42:1, 2; 63:1–4.

Note: “My soul cries out after the living God. My very being longs after Him. Oh, for to reflect His lovely image perfectly! Oh, for to be wholly consecrated to Him! Oh, how hard it is for dear self to die. We can rejoice in a whole Saviour; one who saves us from all sin. We can be shut in with God where we can daily say, ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ [Galatians 2:20] ‘to will and to do of his good pleasure’ [Philippians 2:13].” Reflecting Christ, 350.


  • How does Inspiration describe the way our seasons of devotion should be? Song of Solomon 2:3, 4.

Note: “We need to appreciate more fully the meaning of the words: ‘I sat down under His shadow with great delight.’ Song of Solomon 2:3. These words do not bring to our minds the picture of hasty transit, but of quiet rest. There are many professing Christians who are anxious and depressed, many who are so full of busy activity that they cannot find time to rest quietly in the promises of God, who act as if they could not afford to have peace and quietness. To all such Christ’s invitation is: ‘Come unto Me, … and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 69.

“Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ’s loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens they return to their work. …

“Not a pause for a moment in His presence, but personal contact with Christ, to sit down in companionship with Him—this is our need. Happy will it be for the children of our homes and the students of our schools when parents and teachers shall learn in their own lives the precious experience pictured in these words from the Song of Songs [Song of Solomon 2:3, 4 quoted].” Education, 260, 261.

  • What are we to find through our prayerful study of the Bible? Song of Solomon 4:15; John 4:10.

Note: “The word of God is ‘a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon’ (Song of Solomon 4:15). The heart that has once tasted the love of Christ, cries out continually for a deeper draft, and as you impart you will receive in richer and more abundant measure. Every revelation of God to the soul increases the capacity to know and to love. The continual cry of the heart is, ‘More of Thee,’ and ever the Spirit’s answer is, ‘Much more.’ ” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 20.


  • How are we admonished against the dating and courtship practices which commonly prevail today? Proverbs 6:23–29; 5:1–13.

Note: “Courtship, as carried on in this age, is a scheme of deception and hypocrisy, with which the enemy of souls has far more to do than the Lord.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 105.

“The ideas of courtship have their foundation in erroneous ideas concerning marriage. They follow impulse and blind passion. The courtship is carried on in a spirit of flirtation. The parties frequently violate the rules of modesty and reserve, and are guilty of indiscretion, if they do not break the law of God. The high, noble, lofty design of God in the institution of marriage is not discerned; therefore the purest affections of the heart, the noblest traits of character, are not developed.

“Not one word should be spoken, not one action performed, that you would not be willing the holy angels should look upon and register in the books above.” Medical Ministry, 141.

  • How does Inspiration reveal the beauty of God’s true plan for marriage? Proverbs 5:15–18; Song of Solomon 7:6.

Note: “Love is a precious gift, which we receive from Jesus. Pure and holy affection is not a feeling, but a principle. Those who are actuated by true love, are neither unreasonable nor blind.

“The divine love emanating from Christ never destroys human love, but includes it. By it human love is refined and purified, elevated and ennobled. Human love can never bear its precious fruit until it is united with the divine nature and trained to grow heavenward.

“True love is not a strong, fiery, impetuous passion. On the contrary, it is calm and deep in its nature. It looks beyond mere externals, and is attracted by qualities alone. It is wise and discriminating, and its devotion is real and abiding.” The Faith I Live By, 255.


  • How does Scripture intertwine the Gospel message with God’s plan for marriage? Song of Solomon 2:16; 4:7; 6:3.

Note: “In both the Old and the New Testament the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people, the redeemed ones whom He has purchased at the cost of Calvary. ‘Fear not,’ He says; ‘thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.’ ‘Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.’ Isaiah 54:4, 5; Jeremiah 3:14.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 64.

  • How are married couples to reflect Christ’s love in daily life? Song of Solomon 5:10, 16; Ephesians 5:22–33.

Note: “By having a knowledge of Christ—his words, his habits, and his lessons of instruction—we borrow the virtues of the character we have so closely studied, and become imbued with the spirit we have so much admired. Jesus becomes to us ‘the chiefest among ten thousand,’ the One ‘altogether lovely’ [Song of Solomon 5:10, 16].” The Review and Herald, March 15, 1887.

“Let each give love rather than exact it. Cultivate that which is noblest in yourselves, and be quick to recognize the good qualities in each other.” The Ministry of Healing, 361.

“Though difficulties, perplexities, and discouragements may arise, let neither husband nor wife harbor the thought that their union is a mistake or a disappointment. Determine to be all that it is possible to be to each other. Continue the early attentions. In every way encourage each other in fighting the battles of life. Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven.” Ibid., 360.


  • Why should we be especially thankful if blessed with the privilege of having a family? Ecclesiastes 4:8–12.

Note: “That cannot be a happy home where love is not cultivated between husband and wife, between parents and children. If parents have been self-centered, and have trained their children in an atmosphere where love was not manifested in affectionate words and actions, then change the atmosphere of your home as quickly as possible. Let husbands love their wives, and let the wives see that they reverence their husbands. The plan of salvation was devised in order to transform the natural character, and fashion it after the divine image. When the grace of Christ is received in the heart, it will soften whatever is harsh, and subdue that which is coarse and unkind. Courtesy will be expressed in the affairs of home life.” The Signs of the Times, May 7, 1894.

“Hearts that are filled with the love of Christ can never get very far apart. Religion is love, and a Christian home is one where love reigns and finds expression in words and acts of thoughtful kindness and gentle courtesy.

“Our homes must be made a Bethel, our hearts a shrine. Wherever the love of God is cherished in the soul, there will be peace, there will be light and joy.

“Jesus wants to see happy marriages, happy firesides.” The Faith I Live By, 255.

Review and Thought Questions

1 What does love have to do with God?

2 Why do many fail to benefit much from Bible reading?

3 Why is such great suffering caused by lovesick romance today?

4 Name some ways to improve our marriages.

5 Describe God’s plan for the family circle.

Copyright © 2002 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.