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“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29, 30)

A lot of discussion over the years has been generated over these verses. Who does God predestine? If he predestines a person, then is that person necessarily free to choose Him? And if some are predestined for salvation, does that mean others are not? Let’s have a look at these verses and see what they are teaching us about God and predestination.

To answer the first question, who does God predestine, we need to look at the context of the Bible chapter in which these verses occur, Romans 8. In this chapter, the apostle Paul is discussing those who “walk after the Spirit”. He declares them to be “the sons of God”.

Romans 8:14-17: “(14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.”

The Spirit of God dwells in the sons and daughters of God. If we do not have the Spirit of God, we are not Christs.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (v9).

We know that the work of Spirit of God is to bring the gift of salvation to us through “regeneration” (Titus 3:5). To be “regenerated” by the Spirit, is to be “born again” (John 3:5). So that it may be said that, those who are Christ’s are those “born of the Spirit” or “born of God”. And what do those that are born of God do?

“…love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1John 4:7).

They love God. Paul refers to them as “children of God” and “joints heirs with Christ”, “saints” (v27) who will be glorified together with Christ. These are those “who are called according to his purpose”. The “born again”, “regenerated” “saints” are the subjects of the verses that follow.

Now look at Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God….”

“Them that love God”, the “born again” children of God, are the ones that all things work together for good. But what is meant by “good” here? We have often heard this verse quoted to us as a source of encouragement, particularly when some trouble or calamity comes our way and for which we have no explanation. But it is not often that we hear the full verse quoted. The second half of the verse suggests that there is an explanation for the “all things” that happen to those that love God. “All things work together for good…to them that are called according to his purpose.” When we understand God’s purpose for those who love Him, we will understand what the “good” is that God is working together in us. Understanding this purpose, will also provide a solace in answer to the question “why” when troubles come. So let’s consider the purpose of God, and how it relates to His predestining.

Looking again at verse 28, when it says “called ACCORDING TO his purpose” it means the calling is in harmony with the purpose. The Purpose therefore would precede the Calling.

Purpose -> Calling

Now verse 29 brings God’s foreknowledge into the discussion. Here is where many stumble. People read “foreknowledge” as God’s predetermined will. But this is not the case. Paul introduces God’s “foreknowledge” using the conjunction “for” or “because”, implying that the phrase, “whom he did foreknow” is an explanatory remark related to the previous phrase, “those who are called according to His purpose”.

God foreknows those who are “called according to His purpose”. Paul then says of those ones that God “foreknew”, He “also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son”.

Foreknowledge = Predestined ->To be Conformed to the Image of the Son

The reason for this predestination is “that he [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brethren” (v29), by the many being conformed to His image. To conform them, they first must be “born again” in Christ. Those who are “born again” have been called in accord with this purpose.

Now we know that the calling of God includes the invitation: “Whosever will let Him take of the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). This is an invitation to “whosoever will”. Any one that wants to, let him or her drink. This is a universal invitation.

Paul then says, those whom He called, are also justified (v.30). Does that mean that everyone called is automatically justified? No. Jesus has said that He will “draw all men” unto Himself through the power of the Cross (John 12:32). However, in accordance with Romans 3:26, God “is the justifier of Him which believeth in Jesus”. Those whom God justifies are only those that exercise belief in Jesus. That the drawing of God is universal, is further supported by the fact that that drawing includes an unwillingness on God’s part “that any should perish”. God is willing rather “that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

God’s purpose then includes a willingness for all to be conformed to the image of His Son. But in between the willingness for all to come and the conforming, is the harmonic:

Only the “whosoevers” that will come and “believe” on Jesus are permitted to take “freely” of the water of life and thus be ultimately conformed to the image of His Son. This freedom to believe or not to believe is the harmonic undergirding all that God does within those whom he calls. In the word picture below, this Harmonic sits between Calling and Conforming:

Calling<=>Harmonic (freely believe)<=>Conforming

The Calling of God does not compromise this harmonic at any step in the process, else it becomes discordant with God’s Purpose.

Purpose = Calling =>Harmonic (freely believe ) =>Conforming If those called do not continue to drink “freely” of the “water of life” by “believing” on the Son, they will not be conformed to His image.

Understanding this harmonic within God’s Purpose, divine foreknowledge then is God foreseeing those who will respond willingly to the call to believe and drink. They will be “born again” in Christ. And those that God did foreknow, Paul goes on to say, He also did “predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son”.

Predestination then is God’s pre-determination that all those whom He foresees responding willingly to the invitation to come and believe, will be permitted to drink. They will be justified by faith in Jesus.

And those whom He has justified, according to Paul, He will also glorify. They are the ones that God will ultimately conform to the image of His Son. As they drink from the water of life freely, God works together all things, in order that they may go on to full conformity to the image of His Son, and thus constitute the many brethren. That is the work of the Holy Spirit within each one who believes. The Spirit that regenerates those who believe, is the Spirit that also transforms them day by day into the same image, “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What this means for one who is yet to believe is that God’s invitation, “whosever will let him drink”, is an invitation to freely receive the gift of salvation. “Let him drink”. If you are one of those souls, this invitation is for you. Sister White explains,

“The same divine mind that is working upon the things of nature is speaking to the hearts of men and creating an inexpressible craving for something they have not. The things of the world cannot satisfy their longing. The Spirit of God is pleading with them to seek for those things that alone can give peace and rest—the grace of Christ, the joy of holiness.” Steps to Christ, p. 28.

But God will not force you to accept Him nor will He deny you if you are willing to believe in Jesus and accept His forgiveness for your sin. He will pardon you, and justify you freely “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

What this means for those who do believe in Jesus is that God will accomplish His purpose in you. He will conform you to the image of Jesus. All He asks is that you freely exercise your faith in Him constantly. Don’t let the present difficulties discourage you in the Christian life. Take up the battle in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Paul recognised that the sufferings of the present, are to be expected of those who are children of God and joint heirs with Christ (v17). If Christ suffered, then so shall we. But note, Paul’s attitude to sufferings in view of God’s ultimate purpose:

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (v18).

So no matter what happens to you, no matter what trials or tribulations come your way, no matter what sufferings you may be called to endure, you can have confidence, founded in God’s determined purpose, that He is working ALL things together for your ultimate good—His predetermined purpose—that your life will be conformed to the image of Jesus.

–Paul Chapman

 

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The days of the voice of the 7th angel of revelation are upon us. Revelation 10:7 says that when he “begins to sound”, the Mystery of God “should be be finished”! What is this mystery? When will it be finished? Find out as Paul Chapman presents, “Finishing The Mystery of God”. Genre: Christian. Presented 13 July, 2013 in Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

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Download: Finishing The Mystery of God by Paul Chapman (mp3 audio)

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BIBLE STUDY: Prepared by Paul Chapman

1. What invitation does Jesus give to all?

Matt 11:28

(KJV) Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.

2. Who came to Jesus at night with an important question on his mind?

John 3:1

(KJV) There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3. According to Jesus, what must a person be before they can see the kingdom of heaven?

John 3:3

(KJV) Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. {again: or, from above}

4. How did Jesus explain this truth further to Nicodemus?

John 3:4

(KJV) Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

5. The term “flesh”, figuratively speaking, denotes human nature or the natural heart. What is the condition of the natural heart, apart from divine influence, and What did Jesus mean in His words to Nicodemus?

Jere 17:9

(KJV) The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?

“Jesus continued: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Rom. 8:7; Matt. 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.” Desire of Ages, 172.

“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Job 14:4; Romans 8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of beaviour, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.

“The Saviour said, “Except a man be born from above,” unless he shall receive a new heart, new desires, purposes, and motives, leading to a new life, “he cannot see the kingdom of God.”John 3:3, margin.” Steps to Christ, 18.

 

John 1:14

(KJV) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

6. What is the great object of the gospel message?

Acts 3:25

(KJV) Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

 

7. How would we be turned from our iniquities?

Ezek 36:26

(KJV) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]

Ezek 14:3-5

Psal 51:10

(KJV) Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. {right: or, constant}

 

8. How did God create the worlds?

Gene 1:1

(KJV) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Note: “God”, “the Spirit of God”, and “God said”

God spoke and the Spirit moved. Compare:

Psalm 33:6

(KJV) By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

 

9. Who is the Word of God?

John 1:1

(KJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14

(KJV) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

10. What parallel is there between the creation of our world and the spiritual re-creation of our souls in God’s image?

2Cor 4:6

(KJV) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. {hath: Gr. is he who hath} (compare Gen 1:3.)

God speaks to us through His written word and the Spirit moves upon our hearts.

 

11. By what are we born again?

1Pet 1:23

(KJV) Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Born of the Spirit by the Word.

James 1:18

John 16:13

 

12. How can these things be?

John 3:7

(KJV) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. {again: or, from above} 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

“The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leKJVes and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,–a patient, protracted process.” Desire of Ages, 172.

 

13. What theme does God use to draw souls to Him?

John 12:32

(KJV) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.

John 3:14

(KJV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but hKJVe eternal life.

 

14. What did John the Baptist command his hearers to behold?

John 1:29

(KJV) The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. {taketh away: or, beareth}

 

15. As we behold, what takes place?

2Cor 3:18

(KJV) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord. {by the…: or, of the Lord the Spirit}

“As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ, approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Holiness finds that it has nothing more to require. God Himself is “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”Rom. 3:26. And “whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Rom. 8:30. ” Christ Object Lessons, 163.

 

16. When we experience such a change in our life in what alone will we glory?

Gala 6:14

(KJV) But 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. {by whom: or, whereby}

 

17. When will we find the Lord as our Saviour?

Jere 29:13

(KJV) And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

 

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by Adolphe Monod

Only three words; but these three words contain the whole secret of life.

“Looking unto Jesus”—in the Scriptures, to learn who He is, what He has done, what He gives, what He requires, to find in His character our pattern, in His teachings our instructions, in His precepts our law, in His promises our stay, in His person and in His work a full satisfaction offered to every want of our souls.

“Looking unto Jesus”—crucified to find in His blood poured out our ransom, our pardon, our peace. “Looking unto Jesus” risen again, to find in Him that righteousness which alone can justify us, and through which, unworthy though we are, we may draw near, with full assurance in His name, unto Him who is His Father and our Father, His God and our God.

“Looking unto Jesus”—glorified, to find in Him our advocate with the Father, making complete, through His intercession, the merciful work of our salvation; appearing even now in the presence of God for us, and supplying the imperfection of our prayers by the power of those which the Father heareth always.

“Looking unto Jesus”—as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, to find in constant communion with Him, the cleansing of our sin-stained hearts, the illumination of our darkened minds, the transformation of our perverse wills, to the end that we may triumph over the world and the devil, resisting their violence through Jesus our strength, bringing their devices to naught through Jesus our wisdom, upheld by the sympathy of Jesus who was Himself tempted in all points, and by the help of Jesus, who resisted and conquered.

“Looking unto Jesus”—that we may receive from Him the work and the cross of each day, with grace which is sufficient to bear the cross and do the work; patient through His patience; active by His activity; loving with His love; asking not “What can I do?” but, “What can He not do?” relying upon His strength, which is made perfect in weakness.

“Looking unto Jesus”—that the brightness of His face may enlighten our darkness; that our joy may be holy, and our grief subdued; that He may humble us to exalt us in due time; that He may afflict and then comfort us; that He may strip us of our self-righteousness to enrich us with His own; that He may teach us how to pray, and answer our prayers, so that while we are in the world, we are not of the world, our life being hid with Him in God, and our words bearing Him witness before men.

“Looking unto Jesus”—who has reascended to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us, that this blessed hope may give us courage to live without murmuring, and to die without regret, when the day shall come to meet the last enemy whom He has conquered for us—whom we shall conquer through Him.

“Looking unto Jesus”—who gives repentance as well as remission of sins, to receive from Him a heart that feels its wants, and cries for mercy at His feet.

“Looking unto Jesus”—that He may teach us to look unto Him who is the Author and Object of our faith, that He may keep us in that faith of which He is also the Finisher.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and to no other, as our text expresses it in one word which is untranslatable, and which enjoins us at one and the same time to fix our eyes upon Him, and to turn away from all besides.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to ourselves, our thoughts, our wishes, our plans; unto Jesus, and not unto the world, its allurements, its examples, its maxims, its opinions; unto Jesus, and not unto Satan, whether he tries to affright us with his rage or to seduce us with his flatteries. Oh, how many useless questions, uneasy scruples, dangerous compromises with evil, distracted thoughts, vain dreams, bitter disappointments, painful struggles, and backslidings could we not avoid by looking unto Jesus, and following Him wherever He leads the way, careful not even to cast a glance at any other way, lest we should lose sight of that in which He leads us.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to our brethren; not even to the best and most beloved among them. If we follow a man, we run the risk of losing our way; but if we follow Jesus, we are certain we shall never go astray. Besides, by putting a man between Christ and us, it happens that the man imperceptibly grows in our eyes, while Christ becomes less; and soon we know not how to find Christ without finding the man, and if the latter fails us, all is lost. But if, on the contrary, Jesus stands between us and our dearest friends, our attachment to our friends will be less direct, and at the same time more sweet; less passionate, and purer; less necessary, but more useful the instrument of rich blessings in the hands of God when it shall please Him to use it, and whose absence will still prove a blessing when it shall please Him to dispense with it.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to the obstacles we meet in our path. From the moment that we stop to consider them, they astonish and unnerve us and cast us down, incapable as we are of comprehending either the reason why they are permitted or the means by which we may overcome them. The apostle began to sink as soon as he turned to look at the boisterous billows; but as long as he continued looking unto Jesus, he walked upon the billows as upon a rock. The harder our task and the heavier our cross, the more it behooves us to look to Jesus only.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to the temporal blessings which we enjoy. By looking at these blessings first, we run the risk of being so much captivated by them that they even hide from our view Him who gives them. When we look unto Jesus first, we receive all these blessings as from Him; they are chosen by His wisdom, given by His love; a thousand times more precious because received at His hands, to be enjoyed in communion with Him, and used for His glory.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to our strength; for with that we can only glorify ourselves. To glorify God we need the strength of God.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to our weakness. Have we ever become stronger by lamenting our weakness? But if we look unto Jesus, His strength shall fortify our hearts, and we shall break forth into songs of praise.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to our sins. The contemplation of sin brings only death; the contemplation of Jesus brings life. It was not by looking at their wounds, but by beholding the brazen serpent, that the Israelites were healed.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to the law. The law gives us its commands, but does not impart the strength necessary to obey them. The law always condemns, it never pardons. To be under the law is to be out of the reach of grace. In the same measure as we make our obedience the means of our salvation, we shall lose our peace, our strength, our joy, because we forget that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth” (Rom. 10:4). As soon as the law has constrained us to seek salvation only in Christ, He alone can command obedience, an obedience which asks no less than our whole hearts and our most secret thoughts, but which is no longer an iron yoke and an intolerable burden—an obedience which He makes lovely while it is also obligatory—an obedience which He not only enjoins, but inspires, and which, well understood, is less a consequence of our salvation than a part of the same, and like every other part is the gift of free grace.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to what we are doing for Him. If we are too much taken up with our work, we may forget our Master—we may have our hands full and our hearts empty; but if we are constantly looking unto Jesus, we cannot forget our work; if our hearts are filled with His love, our hands will also be active in His service.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to the apparent success of our efforts. Apparent success is not always the measure of real success, and besides, God has not enjoined success upon us, but only labor; He will ask an account of our labor, but not of our success. Why, then, should we be too much concerned about it? We must sow the seed; God will gather the fruit, if not today, it will be tomorrow; if not for us, it will be for others. Even if success were to be granted to us, it would always be dangerous to look complacently upon it. On the one hand, we are tempted to claim for ourselves some of the glory; on the other, we are too prone to slacken our zeal when we see good results arising from it, and that is the very time when we ought to put forth double energy. To look at our success is to walk by sight; to look unto Jesus and to persevere in fol lowing and in serving Him despite all discouragements, is to walk by faith.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to the gifts that we have received or are now receiving from Him. As to the grace of yesterday, it has been withdrawn with the work of yesterday; we can use it no longer; we ought not to dwell upon it any longer. As to the grace of to-day, given for the work of to-day, it is entrusted to us, not to be contemplated, but to be used; not to be paraded, that we may appear rich, but to be employed at once, that we may in our poverty look unto Jesus.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to the depths of sorrow we feel for our sins, or to the degree of humility they produce in us. If they humble us, so that we no longer delight in ourselves; if they cast us down, so that we look to Jesus, that He may deliver us from them, that is all that He requires of us; and it is looking unto Him which above everything else shall cause our tears to flow and our pride to fall.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to the liveliness of our joy or the fervor of our love. Otherwise, if our love seems to grow cold, and our joy is dim—whether on account of lukewarmness or for the trial of our faith—as soon as these emotions have passed, we shall think that we have lost our strength, and we shall give way to hopeless discouragement, if not to shameful inactivity. Ah! let us rather remember that if the sweetness of religious emotions be sometimes wanting, faith and its power are left us; and that we may be always abounding in the work of the Lord, let us be constantly looking, not to our wayward hearts, but unto Jesus, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

“Looking unto Jesus”—and not to our faith. The last artifice of Satan, when he cannot lead us out of the way, is to turn our eyes away from Jesus to look at our faith, and so to discourage us, if it is weak; to puff us up, if it is strong; and in either case to weaken it. For it is not our faith which makes us strong, but it is Jesus through faith. We are not strengthened by contemplating our faith, but by looking unto Jesus.

“Looking unto Jesus”—for it is from Him and in Him that we should learn, not only without injury,\but for the good of our souls, as much as it is meet that we should know of the world and of ourselves—of our misery, our dangers, our resources, our victory; seeing all these things in their true light, because He shall show them to us at the very time and in the very measure when the knowledge shall be best calculated to produce in us the fruit of humility and wisdom, of gratitude and courage, of watchfulness and prayer. All that is well for us to know Jesus will teach us. All that He does not teach us, it is better for us not to know.

“Looking unto Jesus”—during all the time which He has allotted us here below—unto Jesus ever anew, without allowing either the remembrance of the past, which we know so little of, or the cares of an unknown future to distract our thoughts; unto Jesus now, if we have never looked unto Him; unto Jesus again, if we have ceased to do so; unto Jesus always, with a more fixed and steadfast gaze, “changed into the same image from glory to glory” and thus waiting for the hour when He shall call us to pass from earth to heaven, and from time to eternity, the promised, the blessed hour, when at last we shall be “like him, for we shall see him as he is.”—Translated from the French

NOTE: This inspiring article was published as a small pamphlet in the 1890’s by the Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California. It was reprinted in the Ministry Magazine in July, 1979. Adolphe Monod was considered the greatest French protestant preacher of the 19th century.  A contemporary said of him “As a defender of the truth that is in Christ, he had the heart of a lion; as a Christian, he had the heart and simplicity of a small child, the heart of a lamb—if I dare say so—meek, good, inoffensive, and always charming. His Christian character combined qualities rarely found together: the masculine energy of a Saint Paul and the gospel gentleness of a Saint John.”

[More can be read of his life here: http://www.tunl.duke.edu/~cwalker/monodbio.pdf]

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By Gerson Robles

I recently read a story of a little boy named Johnny. “He and his sister were visiting their grandparents at their farm one day. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods. He practiced in the woods; but he could never hit the target. Disappointed, he headed back for dinner.

“As he was walking back, he saw Grandma’s pet duck. Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and killed it. Johnny was stunned, shocked and grieved! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile; only to see his sister watching! Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing.

“After lunch the next day Grandma said, “Sally, let’s wash the dishes” But Sally said, “Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.” Then she whispered to Johnny, “Remember the duck?” So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go and play in the park, but Grandma said, “I’m sorry but I need them to help make supper.” Sally just smiled and said, “Well it’s okay because Johnny told me he wanted to do it with you by himself”. Then, she whispered again, “Remember the duck?” So Sally went to the park and Johnny stayed to help. After several days of Johnny doing both of their chores, he finally couldn’t stand it any longer. He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, “Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgave you. I was just wondering how long you would let guilt make a slave of you.”[i]

Guilt or remorse can make us do strange things. However, before we go any further on this subject, we need to know what guilt actually is.

What is Guilt?

The sense of guilt is an emotional warning signal. Its purpose is to warn us that we’ve done something wrong or neglected to do something we should have done. Our concept of right and wrong is predominantly acquired during our childhood years, and develops over our lifetime. These moral convictions make up our conscience. The feeling of guilt results from going against the grain of our convictions.

The word guilt is derived from the Old English noun gylt, which means “crime.”[ii] It is true that not all those who are guilty in the legal sense feel remorse for their crime. But in any earthly government, guilt is not determined by feelings but by the violation of enacted law.

This same principle is seen in God’s government. Paul wrote, “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” [iii] And he also wrote, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”[iv]

So one thing is for sure – we all suffer from guilt and we can all tell how displeasing it feels. But how do you get rid of it? The Bible tells us of two ways to deal with guilt and their ultimate results. God’s remedy for guilt is called ‘godly sorrow’ and the other is called ‘sorrow of the world’.

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”[v]

Sorrow of the World

Guilt or its associated feelings of grief are here called ‘sorrow of the world’. This, the Bible says, leads to death. Over 100 years ago, Ellen White wrote, “Many of the diseases from which men suffer are the result of mental depression. Grief, anxiety, discontent, remorse, guilt, distrust, all tend to break down the life forces and to invite decay and death.”[vi]

Today science is catching up with this amazing insight into how the mind affects the body. Numerous studies are now being published in medical journals showing how diseases are related to mental depression. But how do human beings deal with emotions of guilt?

Because feelings of guilt are unpleasant, many try to ignore their ‘conscience prickings’ by attempting to silence guilt in various ways. The first three of these are found in the book of Genesis and show what Adam and Eve did once they sinned.

Self- Correction

“And [the woman]…took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”[vii]

Whenever we sin, we lose something. Here, Adam and Eve lost their innocence. Their shining robes of pure white light – which symbolized their innocence – also disappeared. There they stood, ashamed in each other’s naked presence; ashamed and naked before God! In the Bible nakedness is associated with shame (see Revelation 3:18). With guilty conscience, they try and make up for their loss by practicing self-correction. In desperation, they sow themselves fig leaf garments, but nothing they can do can take away the sting of a violated conscience.

There a many today who are attempting to make up for their nakedness of soul the same way Adam and Eve did. A sense of shame moves them to do some ‘guilty church going’ or perhaps some ‘guilty missionary work’. Others will attempt to counter balance their sin by some ‘guilty Bible study’ or even some ‘guilty praying’. Yet all our greatest endeavors will never make up for the loss sustained.

Hiding from Reality

Adam and Eve soon found their fig leaf garments inadequate. “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”[viii]

Hiding from reality will afford a temporary release, but reality never goes away. When Adam and Eve hid themselves from God, they did so because of shame and fear, “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”[ix]

Today, young and old will try to hide from the reality of their guilt or shame by secluding themselves from others. Fear of rebuke or exposure, can move a person to become a hermit, even in their own home.

Another way we attempt to escape reality is by numbing the mind. Since a pricking conscience is felt in the mind, many of us will try and silence the resounding voice of guilt. In the world, some turn to drugs or alcohol for release. Others turn to sex and immorality. It is easy to see that these things worsen the problem, but how are Christians in danger of hiding from reality?

In Christian circles, we use milder measures to achieve similar results. Movies will bring some release, yet the release only lasts as long as the movie. Other things we may do in excess are eating, sleeping or listening to music.

I once knew a lady where I used to work who listened to music all day – literally. In the morning, she woke up to her radio alarm clock. Once up, she switched her stereo on and got ready for work. She then hopped in the car and headed for work listening to her favourite radio station. While at work, she plugged her ears with headphones and listened to her favourite music. The cycle was the same on her way home and was only broken when she fell asleep to the radio playing. Every day was the same – she was living in her own unreal music world.

Passing the Buck

The third thing Adam and Eve did to escape guilt was to shift the blame on each other and God. “The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate’.”[x]

Because influence is the strongest between those who are the most intimate in their association, all it takes is a moment of weakness to give in to the promptings of the other. It is true that the strong influence of others may have had a bearing on our guilt. We can clearly see however that God does not excuse sin on account of how strong the temptation was. Sin is inexcusable.

The expression, ‘passing the buck’ refers to the action of transferring blame to another person. U.S President, Harry S. Truman kept a sign on his desk with the words, ‘The buck stops here’ showing that he accepted responsibility for all decisions he made in behalf of the country. Likewise, God holds us accountable for the choices we make based on our moral convictions.

Sanctifying Sin

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I did it, but God understands”? or “I’m a Christian, and the motive I have is holy”. Or maybe you’ve heard the expression, “God knows my heart”. All these come in an effort to sanctify sin, or make sin appear holy by bringing God into the picture.  These are all forms of self-deception and although it may appear to lessen guilt, it actually adds deceit to our list of sins.

Comparison

Comparing ourselves with others is a fanciful way of making us look better. The thought will cross your mind, ‘I did it, but look at everyone else that’s doing it’ or, ‘I’m not as bad as some others’. Jesus spoke of a Pharisee who compared himself with a person whom he thought was guiltier than he. In his own estimation, he appeared quite a good sort, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men…’[xi] he said. Here was his problem; his opinion of himself was formed from looking at others, rather than from comparing himself to Christ.

Minimizing Sin

All of the above mentioned points are attempts to lessen our guilt. It is easy to think of our sin as small by looking at how others view what we’ve done on a scale of 1 to10. But we have to realize that there is no small sin in God’s eyes, only varying degrees of guilt. The more light and understanding we possess – the guiltier we become when we transgress that light.

The sorrow of the world can only lead to one place. Ultimately, all guilty sinners will suffer eternal death. Is there a way of escape? What is God’s remedy for guilt?

Godly Sorrow

The Bible told us that ‘godly sorrow’ produces repentance leading to salvation. We will now take a brief look at the way God would have us deal with guilt.

Identify and Acknowledge Your Guilt

Why do you feel guilty? Is it something you’ve done or didn’t do? Is it something you’ve said? Or maybe, is it something you’ve assumed is wrong or someone else has said is wrong? Whatever the reason, you must be honest with yourself. Identify the cause of your guilt. In the little book Steps to Christ is written this clear-cut statement, “Those who have not humbled their souls before God in acknowledging their guilt, have not yet fulfilled the first condition of acceptance.”[xii]

Accept the Consequences

Once you’ve searched your heart and understand the cause of your guilt, you need to recognize the consequences and accept them. What harm have you done to yourself and others? To every action there are consequences – this is natural law. When we don’t accept the consequences of our actions, we are not dealing truly with our own souls.

Realise the Enormity of Sin

The Bible describes sin as a mystery (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Ellen White wrote regarding sin, “…could excuse for it be found, or cause shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin.”[xiii] But while sin is a mystery in the sense that no cause can be shown for its existence, yet we are still counseled to understand its abhorrent nature. Consider this statement, “We shall not renounce sin unless we see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart, there will be no real change in the life.”[xiv]

So how are we to know the real nature of our sins? Ellen White continued writing, “The exceeding sinfulness of sin can be estimated only in the light of the cross.”[xv] What is it about the cross that reveals the dreadful nature of sin?

At the cross we see God’s hatred for sin, in that He did not spare His only begotten Son from suffering its dreadful curse – and we see the remedy so graciously provided for our guilt.

The Man of Sorrows

God’s remedy for guilt is Jesus. By transferring our guilt on Himself and suffering the punishment due to us, Christ has made us free. This act of Jesus in taking our guilt is worthy of our most solemn consideration.

As Christ was walking towards the garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, He was fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah 53. Notice carefully the following texts:

  • “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”
  • “the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
  • “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.”
  • “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter”
  • “he hath poured out his soul unto death”
  • “he was numbered with the transgressors”

Jesus was called, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”[xvi] But, “The holy Son of God had no sins or griefs of his own to bear. He was bearing the griefs of others, for on him was laid the iniquities of us all.”[xvii]

“And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.”[xviii]Christ was suffering as a result of our sins, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”[xix]

While at garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, “prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”[xx]

Sweating blood is a rare medical condition known as hematidrosis.[xxi] It is caused by intense mental contemplation or agony. What was it that grieved Jesus so much? “Christ was the prince of sufferers; but His suffering was from a sense of the malignity of sin, a knowledge that through familiarity with evil, man had become blinded to its enormity.”[xxii]

This mental suffering was intensified by the separation our sins caused between Him and His Father. “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.”[xxiii]

Recently, the story of Jesus physical pain was made popular by a Hollywood movie. But when you start to look into the cause of Christ’s death, a different picture begins to emerge. “The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt.”[xxiv]

“It was not the spear thrust, it was not the pain of the cross, that caused the death of Jesus. That cry, uttered “with a loud voice” (Matt. 27:50; Luke 23:46), at the moment of death, the stream of blood and water that flowed from His side, declared that He died of a broken heart. His heart was broken by mental anguish. He was slain by the sin of the world.”[xxv]

Here is our remedy. God has given us His Son to take our way our guilt. When, in view of the cross, we acknowledge our guilt – deep sorrow for sin will flood our soul and God will cause us to turn away from it in disgust. Then, our confessions will be specific and to the point, and will acknowledge the very things of which we are guilty.

To all who truly repent and confess – Christ has promised forgiveness. In the story at the beginning of this article, Johnny let guilt make a slave of him. How are you going to deal with your guilt, dear reader?

By Gerson Robles


[i] Author Unknown

[ii] The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

[iii] Romans 7:7, NKJV

[iv] Romans 3:19, NKJV

[v] 2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV

[vi] The Ministry of Healing p.241

[vii] Genesis 3:6, 7, NKJV

[viii] Genesis 3:8, KJV

[ix] Genesis 3:9, 10, KJV

[x] Genesis 3:12, NKJV

[xi] Luke 18:11, NKJV

[xii] Steps to Christ p. 37

[xiii] Great Controversy

[xiv] Steps to Christ, p. 23

[xv] Steps to Christ, p. 31

[xvi] Isaiah 53:3, KJV

[xvii] ST, August 14, 1879 par. 10

[xviii] Matthew 26:37, KJV

[xix] Matthew 8:17

[xx] Luke 22:44, KJV

[xxi] The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

[xxii] Desire of Ages, p. 752

[xxiii] Desire of Ages, p. 753

[xxiv] Desire of Ages, p. 753

[xxv] Desire of Ages, p. 772

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