A reference made in the video to Acts 2 should have been Acts 10:44.
A reference made in the video to Acts 2 should have been Acts 10:44.
As millions study about the death and resurrection of Jesus this week, I feel impressed to share an article I wrote several years ago.
Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?
My mother knows that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knows the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my mother gets on an airplane she sure does not feel that it is safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not as God.
As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;
“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.
“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753.
Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. We wonder if John Huss, a mere mortal man, could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?”
It is because John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.
“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
“I always do those things that please my Father.”
“I and my Father are one.”
But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! He did not know that He would be resurrected. Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.
Jesus was not crying out, “Why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning?” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.
Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six-hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save even one of us.
Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for every man. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man, that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.
Some say, how could Jesus have died the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self-preservation belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you and I would be saved!
Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self-sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say good-bye to life forever in order to save us, then you believe that Moses demonstrated more love than Jesus.
Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had, even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was good-bye to life forever.
Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? Because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you, as far as Jesus is concerned.
There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angels’ messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self-ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything – even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self-sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.
Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!
My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Proverbs 2:1 NLT
The other day I was substitute teaching at my local church school. The kids were all good, but a little hyperactive. I finally said, “The next one who talks without raising their hand will get their name on the board.” No sooner had I said that, when a girl talked without raising her hand. I wrote her name on the board. She looked shocked. I told her, I had warned them that the next person to talk without raising their hand would get their name on the board. She replied, “I only heard you say to raise our hand before we talked, but I never heard you say we would get our name on the board if we didn’t do what you said.” I asked, her, “If you heard me say raise your hand, isn’t that enough for you to obey? Is the only reason for obedience to avoid punishment?”
Obeying to avoid punishment is missing the whole point of obedience. I have heard people say, “be careful going through that school zone because traffic fines double in a school zone.” But shouldn’t the whole point of driving carefully through a school zone be so we don’t hurt a child?
Legalism tells us to be careful driving through a school zone so we avoid a fine.
Love tells us to be careful going through a school zone so we don’t hurt a child.
Shouldn’t love be all the motivation we need to follow God’s commands? My young student missed the whole point of obedience when she admitted she would have obeyed had she known there was a penalty for disobedience. Do we miss the point of obedience when we obey only to avoid a penalty?
“If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15 NLT
There was a time, when heaven was the murder capital of the universe.
A lot of people have the idea, that once we get to heaven God is going to wave some magic wand, or flip some switch in the back of our heads and presto! We won’t sin anymore. After all it will be impossible to sin in heaven, right? Wait a minute. Where did sin begin? in heaven! While it is true that there will be no sin in heaven, we need to carefully examine why. Some say, “Well, we will have different natures. We will be like the angels.” Yet Lucifer was an angel and he sinned in heaven! He even committed murder!
This is what Jesus said when He was talking about Lucifer who became the devil:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, John 8:44 NKJV
What did Jesus mean by “he was a murderer from the beginning?” Was Lucifer committing murder in heaven? Yes, he was!
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV
Murder begins in the heart.
The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity. -Ellen White, Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901
Did Lucifer have murder in his heart? Would he have committed murder if he had been given the opportunity? Yes, and Isaiah tells us why.
For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Isaiah 14:13-14
In many countries, especially in the past, the only way to get the throne was to kill the person already on it. When Lucifer said, I will exalt my throne above God, he wanted to eliminate God and take His place. When Satan led people to crucify Jesus on the cross He was showing the universe the heart of his rebellion which was murder. He was also showing the universe what he wanted to do to God high in heaven had he been given the opportunity.
Murder seems very extreme. We have a hard time believing any of our church friends could do such a thing, but is it really out of the realm of possibility or reality? About a decade ago a serial killer in Kansas was caught after putting fear in his community for decades. Police traced a computer disk to the church where the killer served as president of his congregation. I have heard people “joke” that the only reason they did not kill an ex spouse or mean boss was because they did not want to go to prison. Sometimes we joke about things that are serious to us. It’s not always the love in our hearts that keep us from murdering. For some it is only the fear of prison that holds them back. I am afraid the reality is, there would be more murders if it were not for prison. Heaven would not be a safe place if the people allowed to live there refrained from murder only because they did not want to go to prison.
Let’s take a deeper look at Lucifer’s murder plot back in heaven. Ezekiel sheds some light on this.
You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,Till iniquity was found in you. Ezekiel 28:15 NKJV
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; Ezekiel 28:17 NKJV
You can define iniquity by having a tendency to do wrong or bending the wrong way. In heaven, somehow Lucifer’s love for God, and later that of many of the angels as well, made a wrong turn and was bent towards himself. He fell in love with his own beauty and began to put himself first, even to the point of wanting to eliminate others who stood in his way of being number one. The longing to be number one leads to murder. Pilate was willing to murder Jesus so he could be number one in popularity. Judas was willing to have people attempt to murder Jesus to force Jesus to defend Himself and His disciples so they, Judas included, could all be the greatest, another word for being number one. We willfully sin, knowing sin put Jesus on the cross, because our “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” turn out to be greater than our love for Jesus. Whenever we put self first, we put God on the cross.
In a sports tournament a team must eliminate every single team in the tournament in order to be number one. Then as if being the number one team is not enough, there is an award for the most valuable player, so at the end one person stands alone as the greatest. In sports it should be all for fun and we should enjoy the friendly competition. Sin is not friendly in its desire for supremacy.
An investigation into the mystery of iniquity leads us to the conclusion that Lucifer became a murderer when he fell in love with himself to the point that meeting his own desires became more important to him than the life of God. When we sin our desires become more important to us than the life of God and we, along with Satan put Jesus on the cross.
In heaven, even the angels who remained loyal to God did not discern that Lucifer’s rebellion would lead to murder. The cross was a real eye opener for the entire universe. The cross exposed Satan’s true colors and revealed the love of God.
That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God. -Ellen White, Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889.
The cross and not the fear of prison will prevent murder from happening again in heaven, where murder first began. Being given an angelic nature will not prevent sin from reoccurring, since we realize sin began with an angelic nature. A magic wand or switch in the back of the head will not prevent sin in heaven. Only the cross will prevent sin from ever occurring again. The cross will keep us safe from murder, sin and apostasy as we continue studying the cross for eternity.
The victory over sin and apostasy begins as we study the cross here on earth.
And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening. Joshua 10:25-26
By hanging these five kings on five trees, Joshua was saying that they had their opportunity to accept Israel’s God, but they rejected Him, so it was good-bye to life forever. This is the death Jesus tasted for us. He did not taste the death of the righteous as He did not save us from the death of the righteous. He saved us from the death of the wicked, therefore He tasted the death of the wicked. Jesus faced the death of the wicked which meant facing total oblivion Obadiah 1:16.
Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for every man.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
If Jesus was only tasting the first death, with the hope of salvation, then why does everyone still taste that death themselves? Jesus did not save us from that death. We still experience that death ourselves. Jesus and Paul always refer to the first death, with the hope of salvation as sleep. See 1 Thessalonians 4. 1 Corinthians 15 John 11. Paul does not say in Hebrews 2:9 that Jesus tasted sleep. This time Paul says “death” – meaning He felt accursed by God, like the five kings in Joshua 10.
“Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Desire of Ages, Page 753.
Has modern technology removed the need for sacrifice? Now everyone can have their own way. When I was growing up back in the 20th century, my family had one black and white TV. On Monday nights, at our house we had to make compromises.
My dad and me missed the first hour of Monday Night Football so that my mom and sister could watch Little House on the Prairie. Now everyone can record their favorite show while watching another one, or just go watch the TV in their bedroom, so that there is no need for compromise, much less actual sacrifice.
When we went out to eat, someone had to choose where to go. Sometimes we wanted pizza, sometimes Mexican. Well, I always wanted Mexican, but that did not mean I always got it. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t. That is until food courts arrived at the malls. Now everyone can eat at the same food court but still choose their own genre of food, while their friends choose theirs. No one has to compromise or sacrifice. Oh, and I almost forgot about waiting for my sister to get off the phone so I could call my friends! We only had, <gasp!> one phone line. We also had one bathroom for the whole family! Even so, in the thirteen years we lived in that house, I only remember twice having to run to the McDonald’s restroom four blocks away. One of those times was a Thanksgiving with the house filled with guests.
Today we have our own cell phones. No one has to share. We have multiple bathrooms in our homes so no one has to wait. We have multiple restaurants to choose from at the food court so that everyone gets their own way. We have several TV’s in the home with recording devices so that no one has to compromise, and so that there will never again be an adolescent boy who has never seen a kickoff on Monday night.
So does this make the world a better place? A world without sacrifice? A world where your friends get what they want, but you always get what you want too? It may sound like Utopia. But wait a minute – we are talking about a world without love. That’s right. Love is the principal of putting others first. The law of love tells us in the first four commandments how to put God first. The last six tell us how to put others first. This is what love is, and if we don’t have to put anyone else first, then that means we don’t have to love. What kind of a world is that?
Think about this: Jesus in Gethsemane asks His Father if there was another way to save the world besides the awful sacrifice He was facing.
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”Matthew 26:39 NLT
Now you would think, if mankind has come up with enough technology so that we don’t have to compromise, share or put others first, much less have to sacrifice, that heaven could have come up with a better solution, than for God Himself to have to make a sacrifice! Yet heaven, with all of its infinite wisdom and resources only found one way to save the world. Sacrifice. Even the sacrifice of God’s own son!
Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Romans 8:32 NLT
While we dream of a world without sacrifice, we had better remember that a world without sacrifice would be a world without love. Heaven was filled with love, and heaven itself could provide no other solution for mankind other than sacrifice. Heaven is a place where people have to share, compromise, put others first and at times sacrifice. That is what makes it heaven! That is what makes it a world of love!
For our world to be a world of love, it must include sacrifices. It must include putting others first instead of making sure everyone gets exactly what they want when they want it. God has given us the Sabbath as a systematic way to put God and others first with our time. God has also given us the tithe and offering system so that we can systematically put God and others first with our possessions. Without a systematic way to always put others first, our world would have no way of exercising love.
Even in today’s hi-tech society, the need for sacrifice has not been totally removed. A few years ago, a friend of mine received a kidney from his wife so that he could live. Now here is a way technology has created a way that we can sacrifice to save others! What a beautiful love story: Is there a more beautiful way to say you love someone than to give an organ that you may need later to save your own life? My friend Plessie, gave her kidney and maybe even later her own life to save her husband Jim.
I love the world I live in, not because it is filled with cell phones, DVR’s and a multiple selection of restaurants. Having more than one phone in the house or multiple restrooms in the house does not make this world paradise to me. It’s people like Plessie who make this world worth living in! It’s people like Plessie, who are not afraid of the word “sacrifice,” that make my world paradise on earth!
All the modern technology can’t make this world a paradise or heaven on earth. It can only make us self-centered, which is what caused Lucifer to fall from paradise. I can still remember seeing Jim and Plessie lying in their hospital beds after the transplant. I see the smile on Plessie’s face, satisfied that her sacrifice has saved her husband’s life, and that is when I see heaven on earth.
Jim and his wife Plessie, who knew you can’t have paradise without sacrifice.
You may study this week’s SS Lesson here.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
In the late 1860s in the United States, shortly after the Civil War, which abolished slavery, a former slave owner is loading sacks of vegetables onto his wagon near the town square. Across the street he sees his former slave and yells out to him, “Get over here and load these bags onto my wagon now, boy!”
The former slave, with flashbacks of being beaten and abused for disobeying orders in the past, runs over to the wagon and starts loading the bags.
The former slave master has no power over the slave now. Yet the freed slave has become a slave again, only because he believes a lie. There is no power or authority behind the former master’s threats or commands. Truth is, the slave is free now, if only he will stop believing in lies.
The former slave should not feel stupid. For 1260 years a religious organization manipulated and controlled most all of Europe, only because the ruling monarchs fell for the lies of this organization.
“If you do not give us your offerings you will burn in hell for all eternity.”
“If you do not do what we tell you, you will not go to heaven.”
Yes, this organization used force and it tortured and burned people at the stake, but it was only possible because the rulers fell for these lies! Fact is, they had no authority, and thanks to the Reformers, the truth set them free even amidst the torture racks and the stakes.
Satan had to lie to Eve because lies are all he has. He can’t force us to do anything. First he suggests that God has said they could not eat from any tree. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1 Even today, Satan always suggests that God is very strict and won’t let us do anything.
“You can’t have any fun” is what Satan likes to suggest. This is a lie.
Jesus says, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
Satan goes on to suggest that they will not really die for eating the fruit. This is a twofold lie. Not only does his suggestion lead to spiritualism, it also suggests there are no real consequences for disobedience. Yet Satan’s biggest lie was when he told Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods…” Genesis 3:5 Here Satan suggests that God is withholding something from them which would enhance their happiness. The lie implies that God does not really care for their welfare, and maybe Satan cares more about them than God does. That is why he is so “kindly” offering them this forbidden fruit.
If you think about it, most all of our sin and disobedience is motivated by this one lie, that God does not really care for us.
When you really believe God loves you, Satan’s lies have no power!
Let’s take a brief look at the Ten Commandments in the light of God’s love.
“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”
Fact is we are free. Just like the former slave who fell for the lies of his former master, we are free unless we believe Satan’s lies.
During the Dark Ages, a religious leader who claimed to represent God on earth made a German ruler stand out in the cold three days, begging his forgiveness before the religious leader finally forgave him. (See Great Controversy, pp. 57-58) This was a gross misrepresentation of God. In Luke 15:20 we see what God is really like, as represented by the father who runs out to greet the prodigal son, while the son is still far away. This religious leader’s claim to represent God, while making it hard for the German ruler to find forgiveness is the greatest of Satan’s lies during the Dark Ages.
Satan’s biggest lie is not about the immortality of the soul. It is not about the change of the Sabbath to Sunday. Satan’s biggest and deadliest lie is that God does not love you and will not forgive you. This is why the first angel takes the everlasting gospel into all the world, and breaks the spell of this terrible lie. Every lie of Satan is founded upon the foundation of the lie that God does not love you. Once this lie is exposed every other lie of Satan falls, which is seen in the second angel’s message “Babylon is fallen!” All of Satan’s other lies collapse when we realize we are loved.
After the three angels comes a fourth angel in Revelation 18:1. When this angel comes the whole earth is lightened with his glory. It is the light of God’s love. Satan’s lies which have caused the world to experience the Dark Ages, have been removed and the world is lightened with the truth that God is love.
You can study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.