The Lawgiver and Promise Giver

I m writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

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

During my Bible Worker ministry, I have occasionally heard people try to rationalize away Matthew 5:17-19 and the whole law by saying that Jesus did away with the law once it was fulfilled. This is where we need to exercise Isaiah 28:10 and compare other verses. In Matthew 3 Jesus goes to be baptized. In Matt 3:15 Jesus says it is necessary to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.

After Jesus fulfilled the rite of baptism, did He then do away with baptism? No. In Matthew 28:19-20 He tells the disciples to baptize. So Jesus did not do away with baptism when He fulfilled it, and neither did Jesus do away with any of the law after fulfilling the law. Paul also demonstrates what it means to “fulfill” God’s law:

“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love [is] the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:9-10

I have also had explained to me that we no longer need the commandments because now we have love. Fact is we have always had love. It is because we have love that we do not steal, kill or lie about our neighbor. When we have love we fulfill the law by putting God and our family and neighbors before ourselves. Love is putting others first. The first four commandments show us how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put our family and neighbors first.

The beautiful thing is how it is all brought about. When the Lawgiver gave the commandments, He began with the reminder, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:2 Here the Lawgiver is reminding His people that they did not free themselves from the Egyptians, but that He freed them while they were totally helpless. He then goes on to explain in Exodus 20 that He will free them from other gods. He will free them from adultery and murder and other sins.

So how is this brought about? The Lawgiver tells us in Exodus 19:3-5,

And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; ‘Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.’ Exodus 19:3-5

Just as the Israelites did not save themselves from the Egyptians, but God did, so we will not save ourselves from the power of sin, but He will. He goes on and tells us to obey His voice. My Strong’s Concordance tells me that word “obey” (shama) means to listen and be attentive. God is not demanding a legalistic obedience of works.

Many have the idea that the Old Testament is about being saved by law while the New Testament is about being saved by grace. But grace is just as real in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament. God wants us to listen to His voice of promises! The Lawgiver goes on and says “keep my covenant.” Again, according to my Strong’s concordance, that word “keep” (shamar) means to guard or protect. Shamar is the same word used in Genesis 2:15 when Adam was told to keep the garden. Did God mean for him to obey the garden? No, He meant for him to cherish the garden. Care for it. Protect it. The word “covenant” is also a promise. So in Exodus 19:3-5 the Lawgiver is telling us that just as He delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage, He will also deliver us from spiritual bondage, if we will only cherish His promises!

Thus we find in the Old Testament the same grace we see in the New Testament.

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 peter 1:4

God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, page 311.

You may study this week’s lesson here.

Better Promises Make a Better Covenant

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The story goes of a man who got a job chopping down trees. The first day his foreman noticed he had cut down only ten trees while the other men had cut down a hundred or so. “Oh well,” thought the foreman, “it was his first day.” But the next couple days went the same way, so the foreman decided to have a talk with the new worker. “I am sure you have noticed you are not cutting down nearly as many trees as the others are,” the foreman began. “Yes I know, Sir, but I am having trouble with this saw you gave me,” said the new worker. The foreman took a look at the saw and pulled the cord to start the motor. The buzz of the motor scared the new worker, and he jumped back shouting, “What is that sound?” 

The new worker did not realize he was not expected saw down a hundred trees in his own power. He did not realize what power was available to him. It’s the same way with us.

Many people shirk at keeping the law, thinking it is an impossibility, not realizing they were never expected to keep it in their own power, and like the power saw, there is plenty of power available.

If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it. But when God found fault with the people, he said:

“The day is coming, says the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and Judah.
This covenant will not be like the one
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
and led them out of the land of Egypt.
They did not remain faithful to my covenant,
so I turned my back on them, says the Lord.
But this is the new covenant I will make
with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:7-10

There are those who would have us believe that the Ten Commandments were done away with because God realized they were unreasonable and could not be obeyed. However that is not the case.

Psalms 19:7 KJV says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

A popular urban legend tells about a captain on a battleship who spotted a light off in the distant fog and radioed the source of the light telling it to change its course 15 degrees to avoid a collision. The response came back that the ship needed to change its course instead. The arrogant sea captain once again demanded the other vessel change its course instead, threatening reprisals, if his demands were not met. The response was, “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”

So it is in life. Many people want the law to be changed just like the ship wanted the lighthouse to change, but lighthouses don’t move out of the way and neither does the law. The law is perfect. The law does not need to change. The law is not faulty. Hebrews 8:8 NLT says the fault was not with the law but with the people. So why would God change the law when the law was not the problem?

The New Covenant was not an afterthought after the first covenant did not work. The new covenant was actually God’s original plan. What we call the “old covenant” was actually man’s idea – thinking he could save himself by his own strength and effort. It was not a faith response. (See Heb. 4:2) Man’s effort failed, so in what we call the New Testament God re-introduces His original plan from the Old Testament, and says “Are you ready to give up trying to do it on your own? and let me write my law on your heart Myself?

The fault of the people was in trying to keep the law in their own power. God made a covenant with the people, and instead of them asking for God’s help they confidently replied,

“We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 19:8 NLT

God knew this was never going to work from the get-go. He knew they could not keep His Law in their own power. This is why God says in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 31:33 NLT,

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

You see, the old covenant was not called old because it was the first covenant. It was called old because it was a useless covenant that God never asked them to make. He never asked Abraham to have a son on his own. He never asked us to keep the commandments on our own. This is what Paul is talking about in Hebrews 8:6 NLT when He says the new covenant is, “based on better promises.”

In the “old” covenant the people in Exodus 19:8 were the ones making promises God never asked them to make. I don’t need to tell you how worthless man’s promises are. The new covenant is based on better promises because they are God’s promises!

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:4 NLT

The law was never the problem. The problem was the people and their worthless promises. Even in the Old Testament we find the new and better covenant when Abraham becomes the father of Isaac, based on God’s promise. We find the new and better covenant based on better promises in Jeremiah 31:33 when God is promising to write and establish the perfect law in the hearts of men, not by their own power and promises, but by His power and promises.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School Lesson here.

2: Covenant Primer-Teaching Plan

Key Thought:The entrance of sin ruptured the relationship the Creator had originally established with the human family through our first parents. Now God seeks to re-establish that same loving relationship by means of a covenant. This covenant signifies both a committed relationship between God and us (like a marriage bond) and an arrangement for saving us and bringing us into harmony with its Maker. God Himself, motivated by His great love for us, is the Initiator of the covenant relationship. By gracious promises and gracious acts, He woos us to come into union with Him.

Prepared by William Earnhardt


April 10, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Genesis 6:18.

  1. Ask class members to share the main idea of this passage.
  2. What is a covenant? What part did Noah play in this covenant?
  3. Personal Application: What was Noah’s obligation in this covenant? What is our obligation in the New Covenant?
  4. Case Study: One of your friends asks why was Noah’s family involved in an agreement between God and Noah? Did they have a choice too? What would you tell your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Genesis 12:1-3.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. What specific promises did God make to Abraham?
  3. Personal Application: How do the promises made to Abraham apply to us? See Galatians 3:29.
  4. Case Study: Someone asks, “What does it mean that in Abraham shall all families of the earth be blessed? What do you tell them?

3. Have a volunteer read Exodus 6:1-8.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What does this teach us about the faithfulness of God’s promises, seeing how the people promised had all died? Are we bound to promises we have made to people even after they die?
  3. Personal Application: What parallels can we find between what God promised here and the promises made to those who are bound by sin?
  4. Case Study: One of your neighbors states, “What is similar or different in this covenant with Israel compared to the new covenant of Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16?” How would you respond to your neighbor?

4. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 31:31-33.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. How is this covenant new beings how its still in the Old Testament?
  3. Personal Application: Is the law in the old covenant different from the law in the new covenant? What is new and different about the new covenant?
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 149).

A Promise Kept

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In 1969 7 -year old Niki was in the hospital having some tumors removed from her throat. While in the hospital she met Charita, another girl her age, who had a rare form of cancer. Niki found out that because of the cancer Charita would never be able to have children of her own. The two girls formed a friendship, and one night while the two of them were alone in their hospital room, Charita was crying. Niki came over to Charita’s bedside to comfort her. She told her not to cry and that when she got married and had her own baby she would let her mentor her baby and if it was a girl would even name it after her. 

After their stint in the hospital Niki and Charita kept in touch until 6 months later when Charita’s family moved from Los Angeles to New Mexico. In 1983 Niki married and in 1987 had a daughter whom she named Charita. Niki then went on the Unsolved Mysteries show looking for her childhood friend Charita so she could help mentor little Charita. In 1990 Niki and Charita were happily reunited. 

Image © Pacific Press from GoodSalt.com

In a world where people will make empty promises just to get whatever they want, 7-year old Niki  stayed true to her promise even  as an adult, and became married and with a child. While it’s true that our promises are like ropes of sand and we can only trust God’s promises (2 Peter 1:4) It is also true that by God’s grace we too, like Jesus and 7-year old Niki , can stay true to our word. After all, even while the Bible teaches us not to put trust in ourselves or anyone else, the Bible also speaks of those who  “keep their promises even when it hurts.” Psalm 15:4 NLT 

This quarter we are studying the promise God made to man. One of the ways we reflect the image of God is by being men and women of our word. Sure, we make mistakes and have made broken promises. This is one reason why I am careful about making promises. Instead of promising to help a friend, I tell them I will try, but make it clear I am not making a promise.

God’s promises are the only promises we can rely on. Still, by God’s grace, we can be men and women of our word. By God’s grace, we can be faithful to our promises even if it hurts.

Can you share a time when someone showed you God’s love by staying true to their promise? 

You can study this week’s Sabbath School Lesson here.

Will we Remember the old Earth When we get to Heaven?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A couple of weeks ago I was having a question and answer session with a 7th grade Bible class at a nearby Adventist school. Someone asked if we will remember this earth when we get to heaven? More importantly will we remember our loved ones? Here is what I shared from the Bible.

First, it would not make sense to me for Jesus to die to save us here on earth and then turn around in heaven and totally delete all the data from our brains as if we were no longer the same people He died for. But then again my own ideas on the subject aren’t worth a morsel of old moldy manna. So let’s see what the Bible has to say: “ For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or [f]come to mind.”  Isaiah 65:17 NKV

Some take the above passage to literally read that our minds will be wiped totally clean of any recollections of earth. Here again is where we need to allow God to use figure of speech. Notice there is a footnote on this verse. the footnote reads “come upon the heart.” In other words the past will not weigh on our heart and minds. For example many times in the Bible it says God’s people forgot about Him. Well it wasn’t like they had no recollection of God and forgot He existed, they just did not take His love to heart or let it impress their hearts. So in the same way rebels “forget” about God and do not take His love to heart, when we get to heaven we will “forget” all the problems we had on earth and no longer take them to heart. 

Revelation 20 tells us in heaven…

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 NKJV 

Here we see those who died for their faith here on earth are judging the world as Paul predicted in 1 Corinthians 6:3. If we are judging the things of this world up in heaven then we will obviously have memories of this life. After all, as I said before, Jesus did not die for us here on earth just to turn us into new robots up in heaven. If that were the case He might as well have just wiped us all out and made brand new robots to begin with.  In Revelation 21 we see what seems like unmistakable evidence that we will still have earthly memories in heaven. 

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;…. Revelation 21:4 NKJV 

People say there will be no crying in heaven, but if that is so, then why does God have to wipe the tears from our eyes? Again God will never turn us into robots. We will have emotions, and our memories of lost loved ones will surely bring us to tears. God will not turn us into careless robots but will wipe the tears from our eyes as we cry for those who have chosen to reject their mansions that God prepared for them from the foundation of the world (See Matthew 25:34) and chose to be in the fire that was never prepared or intended for them. (See Matthew 35:41). 

God’s plan is for us to be in the new earth with our families. We see this as we go back to the book of Isaiah where we began. 

For as the new heavens and the new earth Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord, “So shall your descendants and your name remain. Isaiah 66:22 NKJV 

I choose to be in the new earth with God so that He will not have to wipe the tears from the eyes of my family, but, even more importantly, so no one will have to wipe the tears from God’s eyes. By God’s grace we will be united with friends and family around the throne of God as we praise Him, remembering how Jesus redeemed us from the sins of the old earth. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

The Great Exchange

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. Revelation 3:18 NLT

I thought of this passage in Jesus’ message to the church of Laodicea while studying Sunday’s Sabbath school lesson on Isaiah 55.

“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. Isaiah 55:1-2 NLT 

In the latter God is telling us to buy even though we have no money. In the former Jesus is telling us to buy white garments. What is up with that? I thought salvation and the robe of righteousness were free? Could Jesus be talking about buying things without money again like as in Isaiah 55? If so what does Jesus mean by buying without money? Can you buy without money? Yes you can. Years ago a friend of mine had no money to pay her overdue doctor’s bill, but she had an idea. She had a nice Television she was not using anymore. She went to the doctor’s office and offered her television as payment for her bill. The doctor accepted and put the television in the waiting room. My friend paid her bill without money. 

So can we likewise buy our white garments and salvation without money? Can we buy it on the bartering system as my friend bought her medical services? I think so. Jesus wants us to trade in our sins for His forgiveness. In Zachariah 3 Joshua trades in his filthy rags for a robe of righteousness. We can even trade in our broken dreams so God can fulfill His dreams in us. 

If there ever were dreams That were lofty and noble They were my dreams at the start

And hope for life’s best were the hopes That I harbor down deep in my heart

But my dreams turned to ashes And my castles all crumbled, my fortune turned to loss

So I wrapped it all in the rags of life And laid it at the cross.

Something beautiful, something good

All my confusion He understood

All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife

But he made something beautiful of my life

Something Beautiful, by Bill Gaither

We can never buy salvation in the sense of working or earning it. Yet if you consider the bartering system as a form of buying we can trade in our old life for a new life. We can trade or filthy clothes for Jesus’ robe of righteousness. We can trade our broken dreams and broken hearts in for the paradise of God’s reality. 

Are we Saved by Faith or Works, or a Faith That Works

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. 2 Corinthians 5:10 NLT 

Early in my lay pastor ministry I was working one night with the district senior pastor when he received a call that an elderly lady in our church was dying. The senior pastor was mentoring me, and I  had learned a lot from him concerning solid Adventist biblical theology, especially about the cleansing of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment. I rode with him to the nursing home where Sweetie Mae was taking her last breaths. I watched as he held her hand and told her to rest in Jesus because He died for her and loved her. He asked if she loved Jesus, and she opened her eyes long enough to smile and then closed them for the last time. I had become good friends with this dear saint. I learned that over the years she had baked many goodies for the homeless, though she was most famous for her pies. She had given many Bible studies and taught Sabbath School. Yet as I watched the pastor take her hand as she was slipping away, he never once mentioned all the wonderful works she had performed. The only hope he gave her that night was that Jesus loved and died for her. Turned out that was all the hope she needed. She had just enough strength for one last smile when she heard the name of Jesus before falling asleep in His loving arms.

Sweetie Mae was saved by grace alone. Turns out not a single one of her pies contributed towards her salvation nor did any of the Bible studies or Sabbath school lessons she taught. Still it was because she was saved by grace alone that she had so much grace in her heart that made her want to bake all those pies and give all those Bible studies. You see grace-filled hearts perform grace-filled works.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT 

The good things we do don’t give us grace. Grace gives us the good things we do. Our good works – but maybe I should not call them “our good works.” Maybe I should call them the good works that Christ does through us – do not earn our salvation but, rather, are the fruits of our salvation. They are the evidence that we have received His grace. Grace-filled hearts perform grace-filled works.  2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us we will be judged by our actions. And Jesus tells us,  “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.’ Revelation 22:12 NLT

If we are saved by grace alone, why is Jesus judging and rewarding us according to our deeds? James can help us answer this question.

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,  and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? James 2:14-16 NLT

So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. James 2:24 NLT

Sweetie Mae was not baking pies and giving Bible studies so she could receive faith and grace. The faith and grace she had received motivated her to bake pies and give Bible studies. The good deeds God gave her were evidence that she was experiencing God’s grace.  The teachings of Jesus help us understand this point. 

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Matthew 25:31-33 NLT 

Just like in Revelation 22:12 Jesus gives people their reward and separates the saved from the unsaved at His coming and not when each individual dies. The Bible clearly teaches that the dead rest in their graves until the resurrection. 

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. Matthew 25:34 NLT

What a comfort to know, during the investigative Judgment and the cleansing of the sanctuary, that Jesus has already prepared the kingdom for us from the creation of the world. It’s sad that many have a picture of Jesus judging us with skepticism. Jesus wants us in heaven! He has invited us! Surely he would not invite us if He did not want us all there! In the message to the church of Philadelphia Jesus p[resents an open door in heaven while His message to the church of Laodicea portrays our heart’s door which is closed. Heaven’s doors are wide open! It’s our heart’s door that needs to be opened. Here are more encouraging passages assuring us Jesus is preparing a place for us in His kingdom.

This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. Titus 1:2 NLT

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14:2 NLT

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4 NLT 

Now I have heard it said that God only chose some to be saved at the beginning of the world but chose others to be lost. We will see in a while that God only intended for the devil and his angels to be lost. Again and again in Scripture we see that God is intending for us to be saved! 

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Matthew 25:35-36 NLT

After the invitation to His kingdom in Matt. 25:34 Jesus says why they are welcomed to enter in verses 35-36. Notice it is based on their actions. This coincides with what we read earlier in James 2. Our actions show where our faith is. Good actions are the fruit of grace. This has nothing to do with earning salvation by good works. Let’s continue…

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ Matthew 25:37-39 NLT

The righteous obviously were not doing these kind things in order to earn salvation. They were totally unaware that they were doing them directly for Jesus. They were just doing these things out of love without even thinking much less hoping for a reward. They are saved by grace alone just like my dear friend Sweetie Mae. Just like Sweetie Mae they were so filled with God’s grace that they all performed graceful deeds. 

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:40 NLT 

The way we treat others shows how much we love God and appreciate His grace. At a Wintley Phipps concert I heard him say, “Our love for God is no greater than the love we have for the person on earth whom we care about the least.” Jesus teaches that the attitude we have towards the scum of humanity is the attitude we have towards Him. 

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. Matthew 25:41 NLT 

So does Jesus teach that He only chose a select few to be saved at the beginning of creation? No! He planned for everyone to be saved. He was preparing His kingdom for the entire world. While Jesus tells us He has gone to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us He teaches that the fire is prepared for the devil and his angels and no one else. Jesus tells those on His right that the kingdom was prepared for them, but He never told those on His left that hell was prepared for them. No! Hell is only prepared for the devil and his demons. All those on His left must have put up one massive fight against God’s grace in order to gain hell because it was never prepared or intended for them.

Do you know how hard it is to be lost? It takes a lot of work and effort. In order for you to be lost you have to fight, scratch and claw your way past the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and every angel in heaven to get to hell. Heaven’s door is wide open, and Jesus says in John 12:32 that He is drawing all people to Him, but if we resist that love and fight hard enough against God’s grace, we can fight our way into hell, a place God never prepared or intended for us to be. 

For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’ “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ Matthew 25:42-45 NLT

These never accepted God’s grace. How do I know? Because Jesus as well as James 2 teaches us that grace-filled hearts perform grace-filled works. This is why 2 Corinthians 5:10 says we will be judged by the things we do and Jesus says in Revelation 22:12 He will reward us according to our deeds. According to Ephesians 2:8-10, grace gives us good works. We don’t do good works in order to receive salvation. We are saved by grace so we can do good works. 

Galatians 5:6 speaks of a faith that works by live. I believe that’s the faith Sweetie Mar had. Sweetie Mae was so thankful for God’ amazing grace and loved Jesus so much she spent all of her health and strength baking for the homeless and giving Bible studies. As she lay dying the pastor held her hand and asked if she loved Jesus. With her last ounce of remaining strength she opened her eyes and smiled before slipping into her rest. Friend, do you love Jesus?

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

I Don’t Follow Adventist Pastors. I Follow the Lamb.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11 NLT 

In Revelation 22:8-9 John the revelator wanted to worship an angel.  What is interesting about this is John just warned the world against worshiping a man in Revelation 13. This just goes to show how easy it is for us to worship God’s created beings instead of God only. If John had to be reminded to only worship God we too need to be reminded not to worship and follow pastors. We must worship God and follow the Lamb. 

One morning last fall a former Adventist member on Facebook Messenger sent me a video of a former Adventist pastor who had left the church. My former Adventist friend thought that would “wake me up” to see that an Adventist pastor had studied his way out of the Adventist church. However it did not faze me at all. You see, I don’t follow Adventist pastors. So the fact that the video was by someone who was an ordained pastor of the Adventist church did not carry any weight with me. I follow the Bible and my conscience. So when an Adventist pastor leaves the Adventist church I am not going to follow him out of the church beings how I was never following him even when he was in the church. 

A few former Adventists have accused me of being Adventist just because I was born a 5th generation Adventist. Here are some things to consider. First I was not born a 5th generation Adventist. We are not born Adventist. We are not born anything. I decided on my own to become an Adventist. To say that I am an Adventist just because my parents and ancestors are Adventist is to ignore the fact that many in my same family are not Adventist. We all make our own choices regardless of the choices our parents made. As a matter of fact I do not know that my exact stand on every issue is the same as the stand my parents and grandparents had. We all have different ideas about Sabbath keeping just for starters. I don’t know that we are all in agreement about the 144,000 or exactly what our diet should be like. While we are all loyal Adventists if you put us all in the same Sabbath school class we would have some interesting disagreements and you may not realize we are related. That’s because we don’t follow our grandparents or each other. We follow the Bible. 

Another point to consider when former Adventist claim I am only an Adventist because I was born one is the fact that millions of first generation Adventists are joining our church family. You can’t say they are just Adventist because their families are Adventist because they are not. So to claim that I am just because I was born one is pretty much an attack on my intelligence. Its saying that while millions of first generation Adventists are smart enough to make their own choices I am not. Besides, this is all former Adventists making such accusations. If they could leave on their own free will don’t they think I can too? 

But I digress. From an early age I fell in love with the Bible. While many former Adventists attack Ellen White in an attempt to attack Adventism that does not faze me at all. In recent years I have not read all that much of Ellen White. Oh I believe she is inspired and has a message for our church. I lover her writings and believe was a prophet. I read her writings just not as much as my former Adventist friends think I do. I am not avoiding her writings as much as I just love reading the Bible! This is also why I am not into devotional books. I just love reading the Bible. During the quarantine while churches were closed I had a couple people ask me which Adventist pastors I was following on TV and social media. I was not following any of them. I was reading my Bible. I was actually saddened to find how many of my Adventist friends were watching 3ABN more instead of reading their Bibles more. 

In Genesis 2 God said if Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they would die. In Genesis 3 the serpent simply says you will not die and for some reason that’s all it took to convince Eve. God’s Word against the serpent’s word and in Eve’s mind the serpent’s word trumped God’s Word. Why was Eve so easily convinced? Why so easily led astray? Paul gave Timothy a clue as to why people are so easily deceived. They want to be deceived. 

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT 

Its always amazes me how I can study with someone in the Bible about the sanctity of the Sabbath and then they go to their Sunday pastor and without a lick of Scriptural evidence all he has to say is “It doesn’t matter” and they are convinced of the pastor’s word over God’s Word! Just as Eve was convinced by a simple lie “You won’t die.” 

It all boils down to this.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 KJV 

In the garden God taught Adam and Eve to deny themselves. Without one lick of evidence the serpent said they didn’t have to deny themselves. Without one lick of evidence Adam and Eve believed what they wanted to hear over what they knew was right. Today the Sabbath and Spirit of prophecy are under attack because like God in the garden, the Sabbath and Spirit of Prophecy both teach self denial. Mankind today does not like that teaching anymore than Adam and Eve did which is why mankind is so easily led astray. 

Yet I still have to practice self denial not because its taught by Ellen White or my favorite Adventist pastor. I practice self denial because the Bible teaches it.

I don’t follow Adventist pastors while they are in the church or out of the church. I follow the Bible. So when an Adventist pastor leaves the Adventist church it does not faze me. It does not make me question my Bible beliefs because Adventist pastors have nothing to do with my faith in God’s Word. During the quarantine while many were finding Adventist preachers on TV to follow I was reading my Bible. When former Adventist pastors are posting videos about why they left the church, by God’s grace I will just be studying my Bible. 

I don’t worship pastors in the church or who have left the church. I don’t follow pastors into the church or out of the church. I worship God alone and follow the Lamb.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Trusting God’s Promises Alone

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

It is better to trust in the Lord Than to put confidence in princes. Psalm 118:9 NLT

When you read this week’s lesson on how Ahaz sought support from surrounding nations instead of God alone, did it remind you of times you trusted in people and they let you down? It did me. I almost hesitate to share this example with you because I am sure you have enough examples of your own! But because this is a blog post and I am expected to give examples I will share a couple.

I bought a used car at a car lot, and I was getting ready to drive away I told the salesman that I never thought to check the trunk to see if there was a spare tire and jack. The salesman grinned and assured me it was in there. So without checking, I drove away. Not a week later, while on the Interstate, I had a flat tire. As I pulled to the shoulder of the road I was patting myself on the back for making sure I had a spare and a tire jack. I opened up the trunk and saw the spare tire but no tire jack! I thought what am I going to do now? Before I could even call for help, it had already arrived. A friend who just happened to be passing by spotted me and pulled over in front of me. He had a tire jack. I was saved! Even though things worked out, I still went back to the car lot and gave the salesman an ear full. He apologized and gave me a tire jack out of the trunk of another car. I thought oh great now the same thing is going to happen to whoever buys this car. I don’t remember if I told the salesman to be sure and replace the jack in that car. Hopefully whoever bought that car actually looked in the trunk!  Through this experience,  I learned an important lesson. While man misled me and let me down, God still had my back. God caused a friend to pass by at exactly the right time.

A married couple I will call John and Jane were working with me in an Adventist conference many years ago. One of the conference leaders was not treating the employees fairly. When I went to confront the conference leader, John and Jane told me this conference leader was “The Lord’s anointed” and therefore could do no wrong. I knew better than that. We all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. The Bible also gives us plenty of examples of the Lord’s anointed still making mistakes and needing faithful Christian confrontation. 2 Samuel 12 gives us the example of Nathan confronting the Lord’s anointed. It was not a year later until this same conference leader seriously wounded John and Jane. Since their confidence was in the human leadership of the church, instead of God alone, they not only left their positions in the conference, but they left the church completely. Thankfully after a little over ten years God led them back to the church. Still they never would have left, if their confidence had been in God instead of man.

I think we all already know, but it bears repeating that the only way not to be disappointed by people is to never expect anything from them. A few years ago a church I had worked with a long time could no longer afford to keep me but still gave me a very generous severance check as a parting gift. Around that time a friend told me she was behind on her child’s tuition at the local church school and had no way to pay it. I decided since God was generous to me, I wanted to be generous as well. I went into the office to pay off my friend’s tuition bill. The school administrator asked if I wanted her to tell my friend who paid the bill. I thought for a second and then realized over the years many people have supported my ministry, and while some of them have come and gone, over time it was always God who was providing the support. I had learned to trust in God instead of specific individual contributors. I recognized that while God was using me this time to help my friend, that next time it may be someone else God uses. Therefore it was actually God who was supporting my friend and not me. I just happened to be the instrument He was using this time. I told the administrator not to tell who paid the bill. My friend needed to know that it came from God not from me. My friend needed to know she could trust in God and not that she could trust in me!

We all have heard people say after going through a trial, “No one helped me but God!” Well that is not necessarily throwing shade at their friends. It is very possible God did not cause anyone else to help because God did not need anyone else to help. Like a center fielder calling the left fielder off as he catches the ball by yelling “I got it!” God may be waving our friends off by yelling, “I’ve got it!” It’s not that the left fielder was unwilling to help. He just wasn’t needed. Likewise sometimes God wants us to know He is all we need. He is ultimately the one taking care of us. He loves us. The healthiest thing we can do is to not trust people or hold them accountable for our wellbeing. Let’s trust God alone and hold Him totally and entirely accountable for our well-being.