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#1 — The Conflict In God’s FamilyPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“The Conflict In God’s Family” — another look at the Biblical basis for understanding the plan of salvation as God’s provision for restoring peace in His universe.

The Bible speaks of a war that began at the very center of God’s family, and all of us have been caught up in the consequences of this revolt. The future of God’s family depends upon the outcome of this war, upon God’s successful resolution of the crisis of distrust. The Good News is that God has already won the war!

Bible passages included:

Revelation 12:7-12. “Then war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, who fought back with his angels; but the dragon was defeated, and he and his angels were not allowed to stay in heaven any longer. The huge dragon was thrown out — that ancient serpent, named the Devil, or Satan, that deceived the whole world. He was thrown down to earth, and all his angels with him.”

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now God’s salvation has come! Now God has shown his power as King! Now his Messiah has shown his authority! For the one who stood before our God and accused our brothers day and night has been thrown out of heaven. Our brothers won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die. And so be glad, you heavens, and all you that live there! But how terrible for the earth and the sea! For the Devil has come down to you, and he is filled with rage, because he knows that he has only a little time left.’” (TEV)

Isaiah 14:12-14. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’” (RSV)

Matthew 4:8-11. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”’ Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.” (RSV)

Genesis 3:1-5. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God say, “You shall not eat of any tree of the garden”?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil..’” (RSV)

Colossians 1:19,20. “For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.” (RSV)

“For it was by God’s own decision that the Son has in himself the full nature of God. Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son’s death on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.” (TEV)

Ephesians 1:9,10. “For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (RSV)

Ephesians 3:9,10. “...and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and the powers in heavenly places.” (RSV)

1 Corinthians 4:9. “...we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men.” (RSV)

John 12:32. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (TEV)

Other passages that speak of Satan and his angels:
Job 1 and 2; Zechariah 3:1,2; Matthew 25:41; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Peter 5:8; Jude 6.

©1984 Graham Maxwell


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#2 — What Went Wrong In God’s Universe?Please press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“What Went Wrong In God’s Universe” — another look at sin and its consequences in the larger setting of the Great Controversy.

The Bible describes sin as more than mere breaking of the rules. Sin involves a breakdown of trust and trustworthiness, a stubborn and suspicious unwillingness to listen. Left untreated, sin makes peace impossible. To set and keep things right, trust must somehow be restored. God sent His Son to “deal with sin.”

Bible passages included:

1 John 3:4. “Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” (Williams)

James 4:17. “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (RSV)

Romans 14:23. “Any action that is not based on faith is a sin.” (Moffat)
“Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” (RSV)
“When we act apart from our faith we sin.” (Phillips)

Ezra 10:2. “We have broken faith with our God.” (RSV)
“We have been unfaithful to our God.” (NIV)

Numbers 20:12. “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’” (NIV)

Romans 3:10-18. “As the Scriptures say: ‘There is no one who is righteous, no one who is wise or who worships God. All have turned away from God; they have all gone wrong; no one does what is right, not even one. Their words are full of deadly deceit; wicked lies roll off their tongues, and dangerous threats, like snake’s poison, from their lips; their speech is filled with bitter curses. They are quick to hurt and kill; they leave ruin and destruction wherever they go. They have not known the path of peace, nor have they learned reverence for God.’” (GNB)

Romans 1:21-24,28-32. “They know God, but they do not give him the honor that belongs to him, nor do they thank him. Instead, their thoughts have become complete nonsense, and their empty minds are filled with darkness. They say they are wise, but they are fools; instead of worshipping the immortal God, they worship images made to look like mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles...”

“Because those people refuse to keep in mind the true knowledge about God, he has given them over to corrupted minds, so that they do the things that they should not do. They are filled with all kinds of wickedness, evil, greed, and vice; they are full of jealousy, murder, fighting deceit, and malice. They gossip and speak evil of one another; they are hateful to God, insolent, proud, and boastful; they think of more ways to do evil; they disobey their parents; they have no conscience; they do not keep their promises, and they show no kindness or pity for others. They know that God’s law says that people who live in this way deserve death. Yet, not only do they continue to do these very things, but they even approve of others who do them.” (GNB)

Hosea 4:16,17. “Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn heifer. How can the Lord feed them now like lambs in a broad meadow? Ephraim is wedded to idolatry, let him alone.” (Phillips)

Hosea 5:4. “For their spirit is steeped in unfaithfulness and they know nothing of the Lord.” (Phillips)

Hosea 4:1;5:6,12. “There is no honesty nor compassion nor knowledge of God... My people! Asking advice from a piece of wood and consulting a staff for instructions!.” (Phillips)

Romans 6:23. “Sin pays its servants: the wage is death.” (Phillips)
“For sin pays its wage — death.” (GNB)

James 1:14,15. “No, a man’s temptation is due to the pull of his own desires, which greatly attract him. It is his own desire which conceives and gives birth to sin. And sin when fully gown produces death — make no mistake about that, brothers of mine!” (Phillips)

Romans 3:4. “What if some of them did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all!.” (NIV)

Romans 8:3. “What the Law could not do...God did...by sending his own Son...to do away with sin.” (GNB)
“God dealt with sin by sending his own Son” (Jerusalem)

Romans 5:1. “Now that we have been put right with God by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (GNB)

©1984 Graham Maxwell


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#3 — All God Asks Is TrustPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“All God Asks Is Trust” — another look at the meaning and necessity of faith, in the larger setting of the Great Controversy.

There has been a breakdown of trust in God's universe - even to the point of war up in heaven and continuing misunderstanding and distrust on this planet. There can be no real and lasting peace in God's family until mutual trust and trustworthiness have been restored. No wonder all God asks is trust - even of us damaged sinners. For if only we trusted Him enough to listen, He could readily heal the damage done. God can and will save all who trust Him.

Bible passages included:

Acts 16:30,31. "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thous shalt be saved.'" (KJV)

"Put your trust in the Lord Jesus..." (NEB)

"Have faith in the Lord Jesus ..." (Berkeley)

Hebrews 11:1. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (KJV)
"Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for..." (Montgomery)

"Now faith means that we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see." (Moffatt)

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (NIV)

Hebrews 10:35-39. "Don't throw away your trust now- it carries with it a rich reward. Patient endurance is what you need if, after doing God's will, you are to receive what he has promised. For yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry. But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. Surely we are not going to be men who cower back and are lost, but men who maintain their faith for the salvation of their souls! (Phillips)

John 17:3. "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (RSV)

Exodus 33: 11 and 17. "The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend... And the Lord said to Moses,'I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."' (NIV)

Romans 10: 17. "So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ" (RSV)

Psalm 51:6, 10, 16, 17. "Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward being: therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart... Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a.new and right spirit within me... For thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." (RSV)

Hosea 6:6 and 7. "It is true love that I have wanted, not sacrifice; the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But they, like Adam have broken their agreement; again and again they have played me false." (Phillips)

John 3:3. "Jesus answered him,'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" (RSV)

James 2:14, 19, 21-23. "My brothers, what use is it for a man to say he has faith when he does nothing to show it? Can that faith save him?... You have faith enough to believe that there is one God. Excellent! The devils have faith like that, and it makes them tremble... Was it not by his action in offering his son Isaac upon the altar, that our father Abraham was justified? Surely you can see that faith was at work in his actions, and that by these actions the integrity of his faith was fully proved. Here was fulfilment of the words of Scripture: 'Abraham put his faith in God, and that faith was counted to him as righteousness'; and elsewhere he is called 'God's friend'." (NEB)

Hebrews 11:31, 32, 39. "By faith the prostitute Rahab escaped the doom of the unbelievers, because she had given the spies a kindly welcome. Need I say more? Time is too short for me to tell the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets... These also, one and all are commemorated for their faith." (NEB)

Luke 23:42 and 43. "And he Said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' And he said to him,...'You will be with me in Paradise.'" (RSV)

One way of describing faith:

Faith is a word we use to describe a relationship with God as with a Person well known. The better we know Him the better the relationship may be.

Faith implies an attitude toward God of love, trust, and deepest admiration. It means having enough confidence in God - based on the more than adequate evidence revealed - to be willing to believe what He says, to accept what He offers, and to do what He wishes - without reservation - for the rest of eternity. Anyone who has such faith would be perfectly safe to save. This is why faith is the only requirement for heaven.

Faith also means that, like Abraham and Moses, we know God well enough to reverently ask Him, Why?

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#4 — God's Way Of Restoring Trust

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“God's Way Of Restoring Trust” — another look at the the only safe basis for faith, in the larger setting of the conflict over God's character and government.

To have peace once again in His universe, all God asks of us is trust. But He does not expect us to trust Him as a stranger. Besides, He has been charged with being unworthy of our faith. How has God answered such false accusation? Mere claims of trustworthiness prove nothing. Only by the demonstration of trustworthiness over a long period of time and under a great variety of circumstances - especially difficult ones - can trust be reestablished and confirmed. The Bible is a record of just such a demonstration. This is God's way of restoring trust.

Bible passages included:

James 2:19. "Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe - and tremble with fear." (GNB)

Revelation 12:12. "The Devil has come down to you, and he is filled with rage, because he knows that he has only a little time left." (GNB)

Genesis 9:8, 11-13; 11:1, 3, 4. "God said to Noah and his sons.. .'I promise that never again will all living things be destroyed by a flood... As a sign of this everlasting covenant which I am making with you and with all living beings, I am putting my bow in the clouds.'

"At first, the people of the whole world had only one language... They said to one another... 'Now let's build a city with a tower that reaches the sky.'" (GNB)

Deuteronomy 13:1-3. "If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says,'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the word of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams." (RSV)

1 Kings 13:15-18. "Then he (the old prophet) said to him, 'Come home with me and eat bread.' And he (the man of God) said, 'I may not return with you, or go in with you; neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place; for it was said to me by the word of the Lord, "You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came,"' And he said to him, 'I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying "Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water."' But he lied to him." (RSV)

Luke 24:15-17, 27, 30, 31. "While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them 'What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?' And they stood still, looking sad... And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself... When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him." (RSV)

Romans 10:11, 13-15, 17. "For the Scriptures tell us that no one who believes in Christ will ever be disappointed... Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?... How welcome are those who come preaching God's Good News!... Faith comes from listening to this Good News - the Good News about Christ." (Living Bible)

Galatians 5:22. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith..." (KJV)

2 Peter 1:20, 21. "But first note this: no one can interpret any prophecy of Scripture by himself. For it was not through any human whim that men prophesied of old; men they were, but, impelled by the Holy Spirit, they spoke the words of God." (NEB)

"You must understand this in the first place, that no prophecy in Scripture can be understood through one's own powers, for no prophecy ever originated in the human will, but under the influence of the Holy Spirit men spoke for God." (Goodspeed)

John 14:16, 17, 25, 26; 15:26; 16:12. "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you for ever. He is the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God... The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you... The Helper will come — the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God and who comes from the Father. I will send him to you from the Father, and he will speak about me... When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth." (GNB)

John 5:39. "You study the Scriptures, because you think that in them you will find eternal life. And these very Scriptures speak about me!" (GNB)

Hebrews 1:1. "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son." (RSV)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#5 — The Record of the EvidencePlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“The Record of the Evidence” — another look at the the Bible, in the larger setting of the great controversy over God's character and government.

Without the Bible we would know nothing about this conflict in God's family. Nor would we have the record of how He has demonstrated His trustworthiness by His infinitely skillful and gracious way of handling the revolt. But can the Bible itself be trusted? Do we have the right collection of sixty-six books? Have the words been accurately preserved? Can we trust the many translations? And, most of all can we have confidence that we understand the meaning?

Bible passages included:

2 Timothy 3:16. "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching. . . " (RSV)
"Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth..." (NEB)

2 Timothy 3:14-17. "But for your part, stand by the truths you have learned and are assured of. Remember from whom you learned them; remember that from early childhood you have been familiar with the sacred writings which have power to make you wise and lead you to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind." (NEB)

Luke 24:44. "Everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." (RSV)

Matthew 5:17, 18. "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." (RSV)

John 10: 34. "Jesus answered them, 'Is it not written in your law, "I said you are gods."?'" (RSV) (Quoted from Psalms 82:6)

John 10:34, 35. "Jesus answered,... We know that what the scripture says is true forever." (GNB)

Isaiah 8:19, 20. "When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn." (NIV)

Zechariah 7:12. "They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets." (NIV)

The Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah Malachi.

The Writings: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles.

The Old Testament Apocrypha: I and II Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Susanna, Song of the Three Children, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasseh, I and II Maccabees.

Some books of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Testament of Adam, Book of Jubilees, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Testament of Job, Book of Enoch, Sibylline Oracles, Assumption of Moses, Ascension of Isaiah, Psalms of Solomon, Magical Books of Moses, Story of Ahikar.

Some books of the New Testament Apocrypha: Gospel of Thomas, Book of James, Assumption of the Virgin, Acts of John, Acts of Paul, Acts of Peter, Letters of Christ and Abgarus, Letter of Lentulus, Apocalypse of Peter, Apocalypse of Paul.

How would you read the phrase, GODISNOWHERE?

One competent scholar's opinion as to the preservation of the Bible:

"The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries." (Frederic Kenyon, one-time curator of the British Museum)

Yes, for all practical purposes we have in our possession the books of the Bible as they were originally written.

©1984 Graham Maxwell

6 — Evaluating the EvidencePlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“Evaluating the Evidence” — another look at understanding the Bible — in the larger setting of the great controversy over God's character and government.

The Bible is no mere collection of theological statements. Nor is it a code book of deeds to be done and sins to be shunned. It is rather an inspired record of God's handling of the crisis of distrust in His universe. To be confident that we see the real meaning, we must view the Bible as a whole, relating all its parts to the one central theme — the truth about God Himself. Of every story, teaching and event the same question must be raised: What does this say about God? Another question naturally follows: Can we trust the God that we see?

Bible passages included:

Habakkuk 2:7. "Thou shalt be for booties unto them." (KJV)

Job 41:18. "By his neesings a light doth shine." (KJV)

Exodus 28:11. "Ouches of gold." (KJV)

Luke 17:9. "I trow not." (KJV)

Romans 1: 13. "Oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto)." (KJV)

1 Thessalonians 4:15. "We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep." (KJV)

John 20:17. "Jesus saith unto her, 'Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.'" (KJV)

John 2:4. "Jesus saith unto her, 'Woman what have I to do with thee?'" (KJV)

Matthew 11:4-6. "Jesus gave them this reply,'Go and tell John what you hear and see — that blind men are recovering their sight, cripples are walking, lepers being healed, the deaf hearing, the dead being raised to life and the good news is being given to those in need. And happy is the man who never loses his faith in me.'" (Phillips) (See Isaiah 35 and 61.)

Hebrews 1: 1-3. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son... The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." (NIV)

John 5:39, 40. "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (NIV)

Luke 24:27. "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (NIV)

John 14:8, 9. "Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.' Jesus answered: 'Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.'" (NIV)

John 16:26. "I do not promise to intercede with the Father for you, for the Father loves you himself" (Goodspeed)

1 Corinthians 10:4. "They all drank from the supernatural Rock that accompanied their travels — and the Rock was Christ." (NEB)

Matthew 19:7, 8. "The Pharisees asked him,'Why, then, did Moses give the law for a man to hand his wife a divorce notice and send her away.?' Jesus answered, 'Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation."' (GNB)

A statement of the purpose and method of Bible study.

The great purpose of the Bible is to reveal the truth about our heavenly Father that we may be won back to Him in love and trust. This truth, this everlasting good news, is to be found in every one of the sixty-six books. But to discover this truth we must learn more than just what happened to Samson and Delilah, to David and Bathsheba, to Gideon and his fleece. The all-important question is, What do these stories tell us about God?

If one does not ask this question, much of the content of Scripture may seem unrelated to the plan of salvation, even perplexing, sometimes even contradictory. But when one learns to view the Bible as a whole, there emerges a consistent picture of an all-wise and gracious God who seems willing to go to any length to keep in touch with His people, to stoop and reach them where they are, to speak a language they can understand. And the further one reads on, book by book, the more one is moved with love and admiration for a God who would be willing to run such risk, to pay such a price, in order to keep open the lines of communication between Himself and His wayward children.

God will save all who trust Him. But He has not asked us to trust Him as a stranger. The Bible — all of it — is a record of God's revelation and demonstration of infinite trustworthiness.

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#7 — The Question Of AuthorityPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“The Question of Authority” — another look at God's way of exercising authority — in the larger setting of the great controversy over His character and government.

Our Heavenly Father has been accused of the arbitrary and selfish abuse of divine authority and power. If true, it would not be safe to trust Him. But the whole Bible presents a refutation of this charge — not in mere claims but with the evidence of demonstration. Even Paul once misunderstood God's use of power — then changed his mind on the Damascus road. Later he urged us not to be so easily swayed by every "wind of doctrine" but to practice being more discerning. (Eph. 4:14, Heb. 5:14)

Many still labor under Paul's earlier misunderstanding, and we are surrounded by conflicting claims to religious authority based on position, power, miracle, or claimed communication from the Lord. How can we practice being more discerning?

Bible passages included:

Matthew 24:24. "If anyone says to you then, 'Look, here is Christ!' or 'There he is!' don't believe it. False christs and false prophets are going to appear and will produce great signs and wonders to mislead, if it were possible, even God's own people!" (Phillips)

Matthew 24:4, 5. "Jesus answered, 'Watch out, and do not let anyone fool you. Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, "I am the Messiah!" and they will fool many people.'" (GNB)

Revelation 13:13, 14. "This second beast performed great miracles; it made fire come down out of heaven to earth in the sight of everyone. And it deceived all the people living on earth by means of the miracles which it was allowed to perform." (GNB)

2 Thessalonians 2:9. "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth..." (NIV)

2 Corinthians 11:13. "God's messengers? They are counterfeits of the real thing, dishonest practitioners masquerading as the messengers of Christ. Nor do their tactics surprise me when I consider how Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is only to be expected that his agents shall have the appearance of ministers of righteousness." (Phillips)

John 8:44, 45. "The father whose sons you are is the devil, and you are bent on carrying out the wishes of your father. He proved himself a murderer at the very beginning, and did not loyally stand by the truth; in fact, there is no spark of truth in him. Whenever he gives utterance to his falsehood, then he gives expression to his real character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. I, on the contrary, speak the truth, and therefore you do not believe me." (Kleist and Lilly)

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. "We ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us... Don't let anyone deceive you in any way." (NIV)

1 John 4:1, 2. "My dear friends, do not believe all who claim to have the Spirit, but test them to find out if the spirit they have comes from God. For many false prophets have gone out everywhere." (GNB)

1 Thessalonians 5:21. "Test everything. Hold on to the good." (NIV)

Matthew 7:29. "When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority..." (NIV)

Luke 4:32. "His message had authority." (NIV)

Deuteronomy 13:1-3. (Moses' warning not to be misled by miracle-workers who do not teach the truth.)

1 Kings 13:15-18. (The story of the lying prophet who claimed to speak for God.)

Luke 24:15-17, 27, 30, 31. (The Emmaus road story of how Jesus did not reveal who He was until He had convinced the disciples first on the basis of evidence.)

One writer's understanding of the Emmaus road experience:

"Jesus did not reveal Himself in His true character to them, and then open the Scriptures to their minds... He maintained His disguise till He had interpreted the Scriptures, and had led them to an intelligent faith in His life, His character, His mission to earth, and His death and resurrection. He wished the truth to take firm root in their minds, not because it was supported by his personal testimony, but because the typical law, and the prophets of the Old Testament, agreeing with the facts of His life and death, presented unquestionable evidence of that truth. When the object of His labors with the two disciples was gained, He revealed Himself to them." E.G. White, 1878 (emphasis supplied)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

8 — The Most Costly And Convincing EvidencePlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“The Most Costly And Convincing Evidence” — another look at the cross — in the larger setting of the great controversy over God's character and government.

In the second Conversation we considered again the Bible's description of sin as more than mere breaking of the rules. Sin involves a breakdown of trust and trustworthiness, a stubborn and suspicious unwillingness to listen. Left untreated, sin makes peace impossible. To set and keep things right, trust must somehow be restored. God sent His Son "to deal with sin." Why was it not enough for Jesus simply to tell us the truth about His Father and to demonstrate by His own gracious treatment of the worst of sinners that God is not the kind of person His enemies have made Him out to be? Why did Jesus also have to die? Why was there no other way?

The way Jesus suffered and died is the greatest revelation of the truth about God the universe will ever see or ever need. Correctly understood it means defeat for the accuser of our Heavenly Father. No wonder Satan has sought to obscure, even pervert, the meaning of the cross — to his own evil advantage and to our great loss! But why did Jesus have to die?

Bible passages included:

Romans 6:23. "Sin pays its servants: the wage is death." (Phillips)

Genesis 3:4, 5. "But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.'" (RSV)

Romans 3:4. "As the Scripture says, 'That You may be shown to be right in what you say, and win your case when you go into court.'" (Goodspeed)

Romans 3:25, 26. "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." (King James)

"For God showed him publicly dying as a means of reconciliation to be taken advantage of by faith. This was to demonstrate God's own righteousness, for in His divine forbearance He had apparently overlooked men's former sins. It was to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, to show that He Himself is righteous and that He sets right everyone who trusts in Jesus." (Maxwell)

2 Corinthians 5:21. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin." (RSV)

Romans 1:18, 24, 26, 28. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth... Therefore God gave them up... For this reason God gave them up... And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up.." (RSV)

Romans 4:24, 25. "...Jesus our Lord, who was put to death (given up) for our trespasses." (RSV)

Hosea 1 1: 7, 8. "My people are bent on turning away from me... How, oh how, can I give you up, Ephraim! How, oh how, can I hand you over, Israel!" (Phillips)

Matthew 27:46. "Jesus cried with a loud voice,...'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'" (RSV)

John 19:31. "Then the Jewish authorities asked Pilate to allow them to break the legs of the men who had been crucified, and to take the bodies down from the crosses. They requested this because it was Friday, and they did not want the bodies to stay on the crosses on the Sabbath, since the coming Sabbath was especially holy." (GNB)

2 Corinthians 5:19. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself." (RSV)

Colossians 1:20. "...and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross." (RSV)

John 12:32. "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me." (GNB)

1 Corinthians 1: 17, 18. "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (RSV)

Romans 1:16. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith...for in it the righteousness of God is revealed." (RSV)

Jeremiah 9:24. "Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord." (NIV)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#9 — There Is No Need To Be Afraid Of GodPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“There Is No Need To Be Afraid Of God” — another look at freedom — in the larger setting of the great controversy over God's character and government.

To be afraid of our Heavenly Father is to deny what He paid such a price to reveal. Though infinite in majesty and power, God values nothing higher than the freedom of His intelligent creatures, that their love and trust may be freely given. He gave His life to make this eternally clear. Surely such a God is worthy of our deepest reverence and willingness to listen and obey.

If God were the kind of person his enemies have made Him out to be — arbitrary, vengeful and severe — there could be no real freedom, and our worship and obedience would be tarnished with our fears. Sadly millions have been turned away from God by Satan's perversion of the truth. But Jesus came to bring the truth that sets us free, the truth about God that even makes it possible for us mere mortals to be His friends.

Bible passages included:

Revelation 14:7. "Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come." (RSV)

Psalm 128:1, 2. "Blessed is every one who fears the Lord... You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you." (KJV)

Proverbs 9: 10. "'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (KJV)

"To be wise you must first have reverence for the Lord." (GNB)

Exodus 20:18-20. "The people were afraid and trembled; and they stood afar off, and said to Moses, 'You speak to us, and we will hear, but let not God speak to us, lest we die.' And Moses said to the people, 'Do not fear, for God has come to prove you, and that the fear of him may be before your eyes, that you may not sin.'" (RSV)

Hebrews 4:13. "There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves." (GNB)

Ecclesiastes 12:14. "God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret." (GNB)

1 John 4:16-18. "God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in union with God and God lives in union with him. Love is made perfect in us in order that we may have courage on the Judgment Day... There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment." (GNB)

John 5:22. "The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son." (RSV)

John 14:7, 9. "If you had known me, you would have known my Father also... He who has seen me has seen the Father." (RSV)

John 16:26. "I need make no promise to plead to the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you." (Phillips)

John 3:19. "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light." (RSV)

John 12:47, 48. "If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, 1 do not judge him... He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day." (RSV)

Romans 1:25, 28. "Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie... God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct." (RSV)

Revelation 22:11. "Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy." (NIV)

Revelation 14:10. "He also shall drink the wine of God's wrath...and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone...for ever and ever." (RSV)

Jude 7. "Sodom and Gomorrah...serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire." (RSV)

Exodus 21:6. "He shall serve him for ever." (KJV)

Exodus 24:17. "Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain." (RSV)

Hebrews 2:15. "...and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (NIV)

John 8:32. "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (GNB)

John 15:15. "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (RSV)

Exodus 33: 11. "Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." (RSV)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

10 — The Reminder Of The EvidencePlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“The Reminder Of The Evidence” — another look at the Sabbath — in the larger setting of the great controversy over God's character and government.

If God values nothing higher than our freedom, why has He placed right in the heart of the "royal law of liberty" (James) a command to remember the Sabbath? Is this possibly one instance where God has imposed an arbitrary requirement upon His people, just to show His authority and test their willingness to obey? But the whole message of Scripture is that there is no arbitrariness in our God. As Paul explained, God's laws were given to help us, to protect us in our ignorance and immaturity, to lead us back to trust.

Viewed in the larger setting of the great controversy over the character and government of God, the Sabbath was "made for man" (Jesus) not before but after sin entered the universe. Repeatedly in the sixty-six books the Sabbath is connected with times of special demonstration of the truth about our God — the perfection and freedom of creation week, the freeing of His people from Egyptian bondage, the costly and convincing evidence of crucifixion week, the promise of peace and freedom in the earth made new.

The Sabbath is a monument to freedom. It sums up the good news about God. It reminds us of the everlasting truth that "sets us free" (Jesus) and will keep us free for eternity. It should always be a "delight" (Isaiah), to be enjoyed in the highest sense of freedom. Observed merely as obedience to an arbitrary command, the Sabbath could turn us against God - even lead us to "crucify Him once again" (Hebrews 6) — then hurry home to keep the Sabbath holy, as happened that sad Friday nineteen hundred years ago.

Bible passages included:

Exodus 20:8, 11. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy...for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it." (RSV)

Revelation 14:7. "Honor God and give him glory, for his time has come to sit in judgment. Worship the Creator of heaven and earth, the Creator of the sea and the springs." (NAB)

Genesis 2:9. "In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 10:13. "But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm." (GNB)

Genesis 1: 28. "Have many children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control." (GNB)

Genesis 2:2, 3. "On the sixth day God completed all the work he had been doing, and on the seventh day he ceased from all his work. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he ceased from all the work he had set himself to do." (NEB)

John 19:30. "It is finished." (KJV)

John 17:4. "I have finished the work which You have given Me to do." (New KJV)

Mark 2:27. "The sabbath was made for the good of man." (GNB)

John 1:3. "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." (NIV)

Colossians 1:16. "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." (NIV)

Exodus 31:13. "Keep the Sabbath, my day of rest, because it is a sign between you and me for all time to come, to show that I, the Lord, have made you my own people." (GNB)

Ezekiel 20:20. "Make the Sabbath a holy day, so that it will be a sign of the covenant we made, and will remind you that I am the Lord your God." (GNB)

Ezekiel 20:12. "I made the keeping of the Sabbath a sign of the agreement between us, to remind them that I, the Lord, make them holy." (GNB)

Psalm 51:10. "Create in me a clean heart, O God." (KJV)

Deuteronomy 5:15. "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God brought you out with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and for that reason the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day." (NEB)

Hebrews 4:9. "So there must still be a promised Sabbath of Rest for God's people." (Goodspeed)

"There must still be, therefore, a place of rest reserved for God's people, the seventh-day rest." (Jerusalem)

Ezekiel 20:12. "I gave them my sabbath, to mark the tie between me and them, to teach them that it is I, the Eternal who sets them apart." (Moffatt)

Revelation 14:12. "This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus." (GNB)

2 Peter 3:10. "The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (KJV)

Revelation 21:1. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." (RSV)

Isaiah 65:17. "Behold I will create new heavens and a new earth." (NIV)

Isaiah 66:23. "Month by month at the new moon, week by week on the sabbath, all mankind shall come to bow down before me, says the Lord." (NEB)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#11 — God's Emergency MeasuresPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“God's Emergency Measures” — another look at the “many and various ways” in which God has worked to hold His family together as He demonstrates the truth — all in the larger setting of the great controversy over His character and government.

At infinite cost God has sought to convince the universe that His government will be for ever one of peace and freedom based on mutual and well-founded trust. But when Satan plunged the family into the crisis of rebellion and distrust, emergency measures were required to maintain a semblance of order and respect until the basis for real peace and freedom could be clarified and confirmed. God even had to command His children to stop lying, stealing, cheating, and murdering one another. To gain our attention He had to raise His voice on Sinai, rain fire on Mt. Carmel, and send she-bears in Elisha's day. The One who sees the little sparrow fall had to establish a sacrificial system that called for the death of thousands of His creatures. And the One who is love personified had to set up a system of priestly mediation because His people were either too irreverent or too afraid to be His friends. He even sent His Son to be the One between, when there really is no need for anyone to stand between us and our gracious God. Besides, the One who came is God, and no one stood between Him and Judas as the Creator knelt to wash His betrayer's dirty feet.

How Satan has sought to pervert the meaning of God's emergency measures as evidence of the correctness of his charges that God is arbitrary, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe! Perhaps Satan's greatest success has been in leading God's children to believe that were it not for the constant intercession of His Son, the Father could not find it in His own heart to forgive and heal.

Thank God for the emergency measures! But we must understand them for what they are.

Bible passages included:

Galatians 3:19. "Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions." (RSV)

Galatians 3:24, 25. "So the Law has been our attendant on our way to Christ, so that we might be made upright through faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer in the charge of the attendant." (Goodspeed)

"So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law." (NIV)

Romans 3:31. "Does this mean that by this faith we do away with the Law? No, not at all; instead, we uphold the Law." (GNB)

1 Timothy 1:8, 9. "We know that the law is good if a man uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for good men but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful..." (NIV)

Hebrews 10:3, 4. "But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins." (RSV)

Jeremiah 7:22, 23. "For on the day that I brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them, nor give them command regarding burnt-offering or sacrifice; but this command I gave them, 'Listen to my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people.'" (American Translation)

Jeremiah 3:16. "In those days...men shall speak no more of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord; they shall not think of it nor remember it nor resort to it; it will be needed no more" (NEB)

Jeremiah 31:33, 34. "I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me." (RSV)

Hosea 6:6. "It is true love that I have wanted, not sacrifice; the knowledge of God rather then burnt offerings." (Phillips)

"I would rather have my people know me than have them burn offerings to me." (GNB)

Exodus 20:19, 20. "They said to Moses,'If you speak to us, we will listen; but we are afraid that if God speaks to us, we will die.' Moses replied, 'Don't be afraid.'" (GNB)

Deuteronomy 5:24, 25, 27. "Today we have seen that it is possible for a man to continue to live, even though God has spoken to him. But why should we risk death again? That terrible fire will destroy us. We are sure to die if we hear the Lord our God speak again... Go back, Moses, and listen to everything that the Lord our God says. Then return and tell us what he said to you. We will listen and obey."' (GNB)

Numbers 12:6-8. "If any man among you is a prophet I make myself known to him in a vision, I speak to him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses; he is at home in my house; I speak with him face to face, plainly and not in riddles." (Jerusalem)

Exodus 33:11. "Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." (RSV)

John 15:15. "No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (RSV)

John 16:25, 26. "I have been speaking to you in parables — but the time is coming to give up parables and tell you plainly about the Father. When that day comes, you will make your requests to him in my name, for I need make no promise to plead to the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you." (Phillips)

John 14:9. "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (RSV)

John 20:28. "Thomas answered him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (RSV)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

12 — God's Law Is No Threat to Our FreedomPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“God's Law Is No Threat to Our Freedom” — another look at the requirements of God's law, and especially the Ten Commandments — in the larger setting of the great controversy over His character and government.

Jesus, Paul and Moses all agree that love is the fulfillment of God's law. But love and trust — the things that God desires the most — cannot be commanded or produced by force. Nor can they be made an obligation, something that we owe to God because He's been so good to us. God wants more than this, and so should we! Our Heavenly Father values nothing higher than the freedom of His family, and Jesus suffered and died to prove it. But real freedom requires mutual love and trust that have been won and confirmed by unquestionable evidence. This evidence is the truth that sets and keeps men free.

Then why does God seem to command our love in the Decalogue? The Ten Commandments voiced on Sinai were another of God's emergency measures in the great controversy. But how He longs for love, trust and willingness to listen that are entirely free from fear, force or obligation.

This emphasis on freedom, love and trust does not minimize the requirements of God's law. On the contrary, these are the very things the law was designed to preserve. As one good friend of God has said, "The Ten Commandments were given so that there would be no mistake as to the kind of people God could trust with all the privileges and freedom of eternal life to come." Does this include the Sabbath? The Sabbath is the reminder of the evidence of the truth, without which we never could be free.

Bible passages included:

John 14:15; 15:14. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments... You are My friends if you do what I command you." (RSV)

Isaiah 29:13. "The Lord said, 'These people claim to worship me, but their words are meaningless, and their hearts are somewhere else. Their religion is nothing but human rules and traditions, which they have simply memorized.'" (GNB)

Matthew 11:28-30. "Come to me, all of you who toil and are burdened, and I will let you rest. Let my yoke be put upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble-minded, and your hearts will find rest, for the yoke I offer you is a kindly one, and the load I ask you to bear is light." (Goodspeed)

1 Timothy 1:8, 9. "We know, of course, that the Law is good in itself and has a legitimate function. Yet we also know that the Law is not really meant for the good man, but for the man who has neither principles nor self-control..." (Phillips)

Galatians 5:13, 14, 18, 22, 23. "You, my brothers, were called to be free... The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'... But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law... But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (NIV)

Deuteronomy 6:5. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (NIV)

Leviticus 19:17, 18. "Do not hate your brother in your heart... But love your neighbor as yourself" (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13:4-6. "Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right." (RSV)

Isaiah 58:13. "If you cease to tread the sabbath underfoot, and keep my holy day free from your own affairs, if you call the sabbath a day of joy and the Lord's holy day a day to be honoured, if you honour it by not plying your trade, not seeking your own interest or attending to your own affairs, then you shall find your joy in the Lord..." (NEB)

James 2:8, 12. "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right... Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom." (NIV)

Different reasons for obeying God. Which do you prefer?

1.      I do what I do because God has told me to, and He has the power to reward and destroy.

2.      I  do what I do because God has told me to, and I love Him and want to please Him.

3.      I do what I do because I have found it to be right and sensible to do so, and I have increasing admiration and reverence for the One who so advised and commanded me in the days of my ignorance and immaturity. And being still somewhat ignorant and immature, I am willing to trust and obey the One whose counsel has always proved to be so sensible, when He commands me to do something beyond my present understanding.

A description of true obedience:

"The man who attempts to keep the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely - because he is required to do so — will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey... True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right — because rightdoing is pleasing to God." Christ's Object Lessons, 97, 98.

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#13 — How God Treats His Erring ChildrenPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“How God Treats His Erring Children” — another look at some of the most convincing evidence that God is not the kind of person His enemies have made Him out to be.

What will it be like some day to stand in the presence of the Infinite One and realize that He knows everything about us? Even if we are among the saved, will it be comfortable to spend eternity with Someone who knows us so well? Will God haunt us with the memory of our sinful past?

Our answer to this question depends upon the kind of Person we believe our God to be. All Scripture speaks to the question, not merely in promises and claims but in evidence and demonstration. Never was the truth about this matter more clearly revealed than in the way Jesus treated even the worst of sinners — the woman who "lived an immoral life in the town," self-righteous Simon, the paralytic at the pool, the quarreling disciples, the traitor Judas, cowardly and impulsive Peter, even His pretentiously pious accusers and the men who nailed Him to the cross. Clearly we have no need to fear God's infinite memory. God is forgiveness personified. Our Heavenly Father finds no pleasure in the embarrassment of His children. Sinners though we all have been, we shall be comfortable in His presence for eternity.

Or would we only be comfortable and safe if God should blot out all memory — including His own — of everything that has happened in the great controversy?

Bible passages included:

Revelation 20:11, 12. "Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it... And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened... And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done." (RSV)

Romans 3:10, 23. "There is not even one who is righteous... For all have sinned, and all fall short of God's glorious ideal." (Twentieth Century New Testament)

John 8:7, 9-11. "'Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.'... When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first. Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing there. He straightened up and said to her, 'Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?' 'No one, sir,' she answered. 'Well, then, 'Jesus said, 'I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.'" (GNB)

John 13:27-29. "Jesus said to him, 'Do quickly what you have to do.' No one at the table understood what he meant by this. Some supposed that, as Judas was in charge of the common purse, Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to make some gift to the poor." (NEB)

Mark 14:27, 29, 31. "Jesus said to them, 'You will all fall away...' Peter said to him, 'Even though they all fall away, I will not... If I must die with you, I will not deny you."' (RSV)

Matthew 26:69, 70, 72, 74. "And a maid came up to him, and said, 'You also were with Jesus the Galilean.' But he denied it before them all, saying, 'I do not know what you mean... I do not know the man.'... Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, 'I do not know the man.'" (RSV)

Luke 22:61, 62. "The Lord turned around and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered that the Lord had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me.' Peter went out and wept bitterly." (GNB)

John 20:17. "Jesus said to her, 'Do not detain me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren and tell them that I am going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God."' (Noli)

Mark 16:7. "'Now go and give this message to his disciples, including Peter: "He is going to Galilee ahead of you..."'" (GNB)

Isaiah 38:17. "For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." (RSV)

Micah 7:19. "You will trample our sins underfoot and send them to the bottom of the sea!" (GNB)

2 Peter 3:9. "The Lord is...patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (NIV)

Ezekiel 33:11. "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?" (RSV)

Luke 15:20-24. "While he was still a long way off his father saw him, and his heart went out to him. He ran to meet him, flung his arms round him, and kissed him. The son said, 'Father, I have sinned, against God and against you; I am no longer fit to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! fetch a robe, my best one, and put it on him...and let us have a feast to celebrate the day. For this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found.'" (NEB)

Hosea 14:1, 2, 4. "But come home, Israel, come home to the Lord your God! Take words of repentance with you as you return to the Lord;... I will heal their unfaithfulness, I will love them with all my heart." (Phillips)

Hosea 11:7, 8. "My people are bent on turning away from me;... How, oh how, can I give you up Ephraim! How, oh how, can I hand you over, Israel!" (Phillips)

Romans 2:4. "Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" (RSV)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

14 — God Can Completely Heal the Damage DonePlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“God Can Completely Heal the Damage Done” — another look at the meaning of perfection — in the larger setting of the great controversy over God's character and government.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus uttered those memorable words that continue to trouble saints and sinners alike, "You, therefore, must be perfect." Or should it be translated, "You, therefore, will be perfect"? Is it a promise or command?

Whether these words are encouraging or forbidding depends again on the kind of Person we believe our God to be and on our understanding of what He wants for His children throughout the universe — and especially for us on this planet who have been so caught up in the damaging consequences of the great controversy. Above all God wants peace and freedom in His family. This requires mutual love and trust, maturity and self control. Such things cannot be commanded, much less produced by force or fear. Instead God offers to set right all that has gone wrong, to completely heal the damage done.

As our physician Father, God longs to make His children well. Our part is not to heal ourselves but to cooperate. As Jesus said to the paralytic at the pool, "Would you like to be made whole?" Perfection is a generous offer — not a burdensome command! How could we turn such an offer down! But how do we cooperate?

Bible passages included:

Matthew 5:48. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (KJV)

Luke 18:42. "Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee." (KJV)
"Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." (NIV)

Matthew 5:48. "You must be perfect." (GNB)
"Ye therefore shall be perfect." (American Standard)
"You are to be perfect." (Goodspeed)

1 Kings 9:4, 5; 11:4, 6. "If you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness... I will establish your royal throne...When Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father... Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done." (RSV)

2 Peter 1:21. "Holy men of god spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (KJV)

Matthew 5:48. "You must become spiritually mature, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Norlie)

John 3:3. "Jesus answered, 'I am telling you the truth: no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.'" (GNB)

Romans 6:4. "By our baptism we were buried with Him in death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father's glorious power, we also should live an entirely new life." (Weymouth)

Romans 6:3, 4 footnote: "St. Paul alludes to the manner in which Baptism was ordinarily conferred in the primitive Church, by immersion. The descent into the water is suggestive of the descent of the body into the grave, and the ascent is suggestive of a resurrection to a new life." (Kleist and Lilly)

Hebrews 5:11-6:12. "Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truth of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity." (NIV)

Ephesians 4:11, 13-15. "His gifts were made that Christians might...arrive at real maturity... We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching, and of the jockeying of men who are expert in the crafty presentation of lies. But we are meant to speak the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ. (Phillips)

1 Corinthians 13:4, 5. "Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful." (RSV)

2 Corinthians 3:18. "And then with unveiled faces we can all behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. And we become changed into His likeness, from glory to glory, through the Spirit of the Lord working in us." (Norlie)

Psalm 115:8. "Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 11:1. "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (RSV)

One admirer's description of Christ's perfection and maturity:

Christ carried out in His life His own divine teachings. His zeal never led Him to become passionate. He manifested consistency without obstinacy, benevolence without weakness, tenderness and sympathy without sentimentalism. He was highly social; yet He possessed a reserved dignity that did not encourage undue familiarity. His temperance never led to bigotry or austerity. He was not conformed to the world; yet He was not indifferent to the wants of the least among men." (Evangelism, pg. 638)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#15 — Talking to God As a FriendPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“Talking to God As a Friend” — another look at the meaning and purpose of prayer — in the larger setting of the great controversy over the character and government of God.

If, as Jesus said, our Heavenly Father knows what our needs are even before we ask Him, what is the purpose of taking time to pray at all? This assumes, of course, that the primary purpose of prayer is to lodge our requests with God. But some prefer to understand prayer as conversation with God as with a Friend. Remember how Abraham and Moses talked to God, and God called them His friends. Remember how boldly but reverently Job agonized with God — to the consternation of Job's friends — and God was honored with his confidence. Truly the way we pray reveals the kind of Person we believe our God to be.

If the Father were to appear visibly among us, how would we address Him? What language would we use? Would we be too afraid to speak? Would we feel constrained to mention only the most lofty themes, or would we be free to talk candidly about what He already knows is in our hearts? Would it be easier to discuss such matters with the Son? Would it be more appropriate to speak or listen? How does one listen to the voice of God? And at the end of such a special meeting, would we feel that we ought to close the conversation with a "word of prayer"? Or would it be correct to realize that in talking to God as a Friend we have been praying all along?

Some day when we really see Him face to face, will that be the end of prayer? Is prayer yet another of God's emergency measures to keep open the lines of communication with His children until there is no need to talk together anymore? What do we mean when we sing, "Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer"?

Bible passages included:

Matthew 6:9-15. "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; they love to say their prayers...for everyone to see them... But when you pray, go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is there in the secret place... In your prayers do not go babbling on like the heathen, who imagine that the more they say the more likely they are to be heard... Your Father knows what your needs are before you ask him. This is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, thy name be hallowed; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us the wrong we have done, as we have forgiven those who have wronged us. And do not bring us to the test, but save us from the evil one."' (NEB)

Matthew 14:23. "He went up into the hills by himself to pray." (RSV)

Luke 6:12. "All night he continued in prayer to God." (RSV)

John 15:15. "I have called you friends." (RSV)

John 14:7, 9. "If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (NIV)

John 16:26. "I do not promise to intercede with the Father for you, for the Father loves you himself." (Goodspeed)

1 John 4:18. "There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear...fear has to do with punishment." (GNB)

Job 29:2-4, 30:20. "If only my life could once again be as it was when God watched over me. God was always with me then...and the friendship of God protected my home... I call to you, O God, but you never answer; and when I pray, you pay no attention." (GNB)

Job 42:7. "You did not speak the truth about me the way my servant Job did." (GNB)

1 Corinthians 10:13. "God can be depended on not to let you be tried beyond your strength." (Goodspeed)

Romans 8:28. "We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him." (GNB)

Genesis 18:23, 25. "Then Abraham drew near, and said,'Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked?... Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (RSV)

James 2:23. "Abraham was called God's friend." (GNB)

Numbers 14:11-13, 16. "And the Lord said to Moses,...'I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.' But Moses said to the Lord, 'Then the Egyptians will hear of it... Then the nations who have heard thy fame will say, "Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to give to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness."'" (RSV)

Exodus 33: 11. "The Lord would speak with Moses face-to-face, just as a man speaks with a friend." (GNB)

Acts 10:13,14. "There came a voice to him, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' But Peter said, 'No, Lord.'" (RSV)

Psalm 77:7-10. "Will the Lord spurn for ever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love for ever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious?... And I say, 'It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.'" (RSV)

Psalm 139:19, 21-24. "O that thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God,... Do I not hate them that hate thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (RSV)

Romans 8:26. "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought." (RSV)

1 Thessalonians 5:17. "Never stop praying." (Norlie)

#16 — God's Last Pleading With His ChildrenPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“God's Last Pleading With His Children” — another look at the the three angels' messages of Revelation 14 — in the larger setting of the great controversy over the character and government of God.

In the last of the sixty-six books, the war that began up in heaven is described as culminating in three final messages of warning and invitation — all sent from a Heavenly Father who wants none of His children to be lost. The first angel speaks of the everlasting good news and calls on people everywhere to make up their minds about their Creator. What is this good news, this eternal truth that has always been and will forever remain the foundation of our trust in God? Can we, like Paul, be so convinced about this truth that not even an angel from heaven could persuade us otherwise? (Galatians 1)

The second angel speaks of the final collapse of Satan's opposition in corruption and defeat. The third describes the inevitable consequence of preferring Satan's lies to the everlasting truth. The third angel's message is the most fearsome in all the Bible, and the enemy would have us misunderstand it as the words of an angry God. But all the previous books of Scripture have prepared us to understand the terrible consequence of sin and how God would do anything to spare His children. For one last time our Heavenly Father — the One who would so much rather speak to us gently of the truth — raises His voice in awesome warning and appeal: "If you are bent on leaving Me, I must let you go!"

We could trust the God we worship to send these three final messages to the world. In these last days before the end He would not leave His children unenlightened and unwarned. And behind the fearsome wording of the third angel's message stands the God of Hosea crying, "Why will you die? How can I give you up! How can I let you go!"

Bible passages included:

Revelation 14:6-12. "Then I saw another angel flying in mid-air, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the seas and the springs of water.'

"A second angel followed and said, 'Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.'

"A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: 'If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.' This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus." (NIV)

Galatians 1:8, 9. "If anyone, if we ourselves or an angel from heaven, should preach a gospel at variance with the gospel we preached to you, he shall be held outcast. I now repeat what I have said before; if anyone preaches a gospel at variance with the gospel which you received, let him be outcast!" (NEB)

Galatians 1:6, 7. "I am astonished to find you turning so quickly away...and following a different gospel. Not that it is in fact another gospel; only there are persons who unsettle your minds by trying to distort the gospel of Christ." (NEB)

Galatians 3:1. "You foolish Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross!" (GNB)

Galatians4:8, 9. "In the past you did not know God, and so you were slaves of beings who are not gods. But now that you know God...how is it that you want to turn back?" (GNB)

1 Corinthians 1: 17, 18. "Christ did not send me to baptize. He sent me to tell the Good News... For the message about Christ's death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God's power." (GNB)

Romans 1:16, 17. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation... For in it the righteousness of God is revealed." (RSV)

Jeremiah 9:24. "Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord." (NIV)

Romans 3:25, 26. "For God showed Him publicly dying as a means of reconciliation... This was to demonstrate God's own righteousness... to show that He Himself is righteous and that He sets right everyone who trusts in Jesus." (Maxwell)

John 8:32. "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (Williams)

Galatians 5:1. "This is the freedom with which Christ has made us free. So keep on standing in it, and stop letting your necks be fastened in the yoke of slavery again." (Williams)

Romans 1:4, 5. "Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom I have received grace and a commission for His Name's sake to win men to the obedience that springs from faith." (Weymouth)

1 John 4:16, 18. "God is love... There is no fear in love." (Williams)

Matthew 24:14. "And this Good News about the Kingdom will be preached through all the world...and then the end will come." (GNB)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#17 — Satan's Final Effort To DeceivePlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“Satan's Final Effort To Deceive” — another look at the enemy's last, most diabolical attempt to mislead us into joining his side in the great controversy over the character and government of God.

The book of Revelation describes not only God's last pleading with His children (chapter 14) but also Satan's final effort to deceive (chapter 13). Though Jesus said that He "saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18), the defeated enemy of God and man still "prowls around like a roaring lion" (1 Peter 5:8), knowing that his time is short (Revelation 12:12). The one whose insane desire to be God led to the war up in heaven will at last seem to enjoy complete success. "All who dwell on earth will worship him" — except those who prefer to believe Jesus' testimony about His Father (Revelation 12:17) and so remain loyal to God (Revelation 14:12). Naturally these loyal ones are the object of Satan's special efforts to deceive.

If even angels could be taken in, how can mere humans hope to resist Satan's most cunning persuasion? History warns of over-confidence. Even God's chosen people in the promised land were misled into crucifying their Redeemer and then hurrying home to keep the Sabbath holy. They read their Bibles, paid their tithe, watch their diet—and hated Jesus' picture of the Father! Is it possible we could be similarly deceived?

Just as through the centuries God has demonstrated His trustworthiness, so Satan has displayed his ability and willingness to deceive. His counterfeit of the first coming of Christ in the "mystery religions" should alert us to expect brilliant counterfeits of the second coming in the end. Since truth and evidence are not on Satan's side, he has countered with the widely held belief that religious faith requires no evidence, that religious claims need not be investigated. Such subjects as sin, the atonement, the cross, the law, the judgment, Christ's intercession, the destruction of the wicked, have all been bent to support his misrepresentations of our God. How can we prepare to resist his final efforts to deceive?

Bible passages included:

Revelation 4:8, 11; 15:3, 4. "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty... You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power... Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed." (NIV)

Luke 10:18. "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (RSV)

Revelation 12:12. "Be glad, you heavens, and all you that live there! But how terrible for the earth and sea! For the Devil has come down to you, and he is filled with rage, because he knows that he has only a little time left." (GNB)

1 Peter 5:8, 9. "Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Be firm in your faith and resist him." (GNB)

Revelation 13:5, 7, 8, 10. "The beast was allowed to make proud claims which were insulting to God... It was allowed to fight against God's people and to defeat them... All people living on earth will worship it, except those whose names were written before the creation of the world in the book of the living... This calls for endurance and faith on the part of God's people." (GNB)

Revelation 12:17. "All those who obey God's commandments and are faithful to the truth revealed by Jesus." (GNB)

John 8:48. "The Jews answered him, 'Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?'" (NIV)

Matthew 23:15, 23, 24. "How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert, and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are!... You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill and cummin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice, mercy and honesty. ... Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink but swallow a camel!" (GNB)

John 18:28. "Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover." (GNB)

John 19:31. "Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down." (NIV)

Matthew 7:23. "When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!' Then I will say to them,'I never knew you.'" (GNB)

Revelation 3:15-17. "I know what you have done; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth! You say, 'I am rich and well off; I have all I need.' But you do not know how miserable and pitiful you are! You are poor, naked, and blind." (GNB)

1 John 4:1, 2. "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God." (NIV)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#18 — God Waits For His Children To Grow UpPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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“God Waits For His Children To Grow Up” — another look at the reasons for the apparent delay of the final events in the great controversy over the character and government of God.

Almost two thousand years have passed since God won His case on Calvary. Satan's lies and accusations have long ago been met. The freedom of the universe has been eternally secured. Why, then, does God still tolerate this one rebellious spot in His loyal universe? He longs to re-create our world and give it to His trusting saints. Why does He still wait?

When Jesus returns, He will come to a generation of believers who have experienced Satan's last supreme attempt to deceive and destroy God's loyal children on this planet. They will have accomplished what one third of the angels failed to do. They will have refused to be turned against God by Satan's lies. They will have been able to say with Paul, "If anyone — even an angel from heaven — should bring a different version of the everlasting Good News, he is wrong, and we will not believe it!" (Galatians 1) These are not babes in the truth. They are grown-up believers. They meet the Biblical description of Christian perfection and maturity: they have "their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5,6) They have not only the teachable faith of a little child, which still needs much protection, but — like Job — they can stand alone. Though their faith be severely tested, they will never let God down.

God is waiting for such firm believers. The last book in the Bible pictures the angels as mercifully holding back the final winds of strife until the minds of God's children have been unshakably sealed and settled into the truth.

But what is this truth? Remember the pious beliefs of those who nailed Jesus to the cross - then hurried home to keep the Sabbath holy! Do we accept Jesus' testimony about His Father? Are we convinced that God is just as gracious as the Son? Or are we still "easily swayed by every wind of doctrine"? (Ephesians 4) Do we still need emergency measures to be reverent and do what is right? Are we the reason why God still waits?

Bible passages included:

Daniel 12:1, 3. "There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people — everyone whose name is found written in the book — will be delivered... Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." (NIV)

1 Timothy 4:1-3. "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth." (NIV)

2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10. "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ... Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed... He opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, and even sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God... And now you know what is holding him back... For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way... The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." (NIV)

Revelation 7:1-3. "After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascend from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels...'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads.'" (RSV)

Ephesians 4:30. "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (NIV)

Ephesians 1:13. "In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit." (RSV)

Ephesians 1:17. "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." (NIV)

John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13. "The Holy Spirit...will be your teacher and will bring to your minds all that I have said to you... When the helper comes, that is, the Spirit of Truth...he will speak plainly about me. And you yourselves will also speak plainly about me ... he will guide you into everything that is true." (Phillips)

Ephesians 4:14, 15. "We are no longer to be children, tossed by the waves and whirled about by every fresh gust of teaching, dupes of crafty rogues and their deceitful schemes. No, let us speak the truth in love; so shall we fully grow up into Christ." (NEB)

Hebrews 5:13, 14; 6:1. "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity." (NIV)

1 Corinthians 13:11. "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways." (RSV)

Ephesians 6:11-14. "Put on all the armour which God provides, so that you may be able to stand firm against the devices of the devil. For our fight is not against human foes, but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens. Therefore, take up God's armour; then you will be able to stand your ground when things are at their worst, to complete every task and still to stand. Stand firm, I say. Fasten on the belt of truth..." (NEB)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

#19 — How Soon Will The Conflict Be Over?Please press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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"How Soon Will The Conflict Be Over?" The question this time is not When? but How soon? The conflict will be over when God's children on this planet have fully responded to His last pleading (conversation 16), are so settled into the truth that they can resist Satan's final effort to deceive (number 17) and as grown-up believers can not only survive the time of trouble but, like Job, speak well and truly of our Heavenly Father (number 18).

"How soon?" the disciples asked Jesus. "Tell us, when will this happen? What will be the signal for your coming and the end of the world." (Matthew 24:3) Jesus spoke of alarming disturbances in earth and sky, of growing distrust between the nations, the rise of false religious leaders—and the Good News going to all the world. He said the end was near—more than 1900 years ago! But how near is "near?" Not long before he died John wrote, "Children, it is the last hour...we know that it is the last hour." (1 John 2:18) Was he wrong? When John arises at the Second Coming he will be surprised to find how long he has been asleep. He may have some questions but surely no complaints! And there will be earth-shaking events for him yet to see.

About a century and a half ago there arose in various parts of the world the growing conviction that the time had come for Jesus to return. Thousands of Christians the world around still agree that those early adventist believers had indeed seen God's signal that Christ was coming soon. But this was not a signal to withdraw from the world and pack for the trip up to Heaven. It was a call from God to finish the work of preparing the world for His coming.

It is true that time has continued much longer than early adventists expected. The signs that so stirred them are now well over a hundred years old. But are we surprised, even ashamed, that our God has been willing to wait? Are we concerned about our reputation or His? If by our failure to complete our task we may have contributed to the delay, then we deserve to be ashamed. But the longer God waits, the more gracious He looks. His delay only confirms the Good News!

How much longer do you think God will have to wait? We can trust Him to wait as long as there is hope for anyone. But the One who reads our every thought will know when all final decisions are made. "So then," Jesus advised, "you must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him." (Matthew 24:44) To which Paul added, "But you, brothers, are not in darkness, and the Day should not take you by surprise." (1 Thessalonians 5:4) What should we be looking for?

Bible passages included:

Matthew 24:3. "Tell us, when will this be and how can we tell when You're coming back and the world will come to an end?" (Beck)

Matthew 24:36. "But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not even the Son; only the Father." (NEB)

John 14:1, 3. "Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in me... I shall come again and receive you to myself, so that where I am you may be also." (NEB)

Matthew 24:26, 27, 30, 31. "Don't believe it. For the Son of Man will come like the lightning which flashes across the whole sky from the east to the west... And all the peoples of earth will weep as they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. The great trumpet will sound, and he will send out his angels to the four corners of the earth, and they will gather his chosen people from one end of the world to the other." (GNB)

Revelation 1:7. "Every eye will see him." (RSV)

Isaiah 25:9. "In that day they will say, 'Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation." (NIV)

Revelation 6:16. "They called to the mountains and the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!'" (NIV)

2 Chronicles 36:15, 16. "The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people;... but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, till the wrath of the Lord rose against the people, till there was no remedy." (RSV)

Romans 2:4. "Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God's generosity and patient mercy toward you as weakness on his part? Don't you realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" (Phillips)

Habakkuk 2:3. "It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place." (GNB)

2 Peter 3:3, 4. "In the last days there will come men who scoff at religion and live self-indulgent lives, and they will say. 'Where now is the promise of his coming? Our fathers have been laid to their rest, but still everything continues exactly as it has always been since the world began."' (NEB)

2 Peter 3:9. "It is not that the Lord is slow in fulfilling his promise, as some suppose, but that he is very patient with you, because it is not his will for any to be lost, but for all to come to repentance." (NEB)

Jonah 4:2, 3. "Lord, didn't I say before I left home that this is just what you would do? That's why I did my best to run away to Spain! I knew that you are a loving and merciful God, always patient, always kind, and always ready to change your mind and not punish. Now then, Lord, let me die. I am better off dead than alive." (GNB)

Matthew 24:29. "The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky." (NIV)

2 Peter 3:12. "Look eagerly for the coming of the Day of God and work to hasten it on." (NEB)

Matthew 24:44. "So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him." (GNB)

1 Thessalonians 5:4. "But you, brothers are not living in darkness, and so the day will not like a thief take you by surprise." (Kleist and Lilly)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

20 — At Peace With Our Heavenly FatherPlease press the microphone to listen to the talk.
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"At Peace With Our Heavenly Father" — another look at God's successful but very costly resolution of the crisis in His family.

We began these Conversations by remembering that there once was peace throughout the universe. And there was peace because all the members of God's vast family trusted each other, all of them trusted their Heavenly Father, and He in turn could safely trust in them. But we have also talked about the war that began up in Heaven, the conflict of distrust, the false charges of the adversary, and God's patient demonstration of the truth. The conflict was not over mere obedience to the rules but over the character and government of God himself. Victory for God is not the destruction of His enemies. This He could have accomplished by the merest command or manifestation of almighty power. But God's enemies are His own beloved but misbehaving children. There is no victory for God until what went wrong has been set right, till peace has been eternally secured — not a false peace based on force or fear but real peace based on freely given love and trust.

There could be no peace if God were as Satan has made Him out to be — arbitrary, vengeful, unforgiving and severe. Mere pardon and adjustment of one's legal standing would not produce peace between sinners and this kind of God. Yet there are explanations of salvation that seem based on the assumption that Satan's accusations are the truth. "God is arbitrary," some will say, "but as Sovereign He has the right to be." "God takes vengeance, but for Him we should call it justice." Few would suggest that God is unforgiving and severe, but many imply the same by urging the necessity of a Friend up there to plead with God to forgive and heal.

Paul told early Christians that since we have been won back to trust and so set right with God we should go on enjoying the peace we have with God through Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1) Jesus came to bring peace with God, not by paying some legal penalty so God would not have to kill us after all. He brought peace by showing us the truth about our God, that there is no need to be afraid. God will indeed give up those who refuse to trust and listen and let Him heal. But God will not torture to death His dying children. Jesus brought peace, not so much by assuring us that He would be our Friend in court but by showing that there is no need for Him to plead with God in our behalf, for the Father is just as much our Friend.

Truly the only way to set and keep us right was for Jesus to come and demonstrate the truth about the Father. And so, as one of God's best friends has said, "The whole purpose of Christ's mission on this earth was to set men right by revealing the truth about God's character." This is the truth that sets us free. This is the truth that brings everlasting peace. But do we like it? Do we want it? Like God, would we give up anything to have such peace?

Bible passages included:

Romans 5:1. "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (RSV)
"Let us have peace." (Rheims, 1582)
"Let us enjoy the peace we have." (Moffatt)
"Let us continue to enjoy the peace we have." (Montgomery)

1 Kings 9:3, 4. "The Lord said to him (Solomon)...'If you walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did...'" (NIV)

Colossians 1:20. "Through him God chose to reconcile the whole universe to himself, making peace through the shedding of his blood upon the cross." (NEB)

Matthew 10:34-36. "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; a man's worst enemies will be the members of his own family." (GNB)

John 1:11. "He came to his home, and his own family did not welcome him." (Goodspeed)

1 Peter 4:12-14. "Do not be surprised at the painful test you are suffering... Rather be glad that you are sharing Christ's sufferings... Happy are you if you are insulted because you are Christ's followers; this means that the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is resting on you." (GNB)

Galatians 5:22. "The Spirit, on the other hand, brings a harvest of love, joy, peace..." (Weymouth)

John 14:25, 26. "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit...will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you... Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)

John 16:33; 17:1, 3, 4. "'I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but be brave; I have conquered the world.' ... 'Father...eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God... I have glorified you on earth and finished the work that you gave me to do.'" (Jerusalem)

Romans 7:23, 24. "I see a different law at work in my body — a law that fights against the law which my mind approves of... It makes me a prisoner... What an unhappy man I am! Who will rescue me?" (GNB)

Romans 8:31, 38, 39. "If God is for us, who can be against us?... I am certain that...neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers...will ever be able to separate us from the love of God." (GNB)

Hebrews 12:11. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time... Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace." (NIV)

Romans 5:3, 4. "We can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles.. These very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character..." (Phillips)

Isaiah 26:3, 4. "You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you." (GNB)

Hebrews 4:2. "For we have heard the Good News, just as they did. They heard the message, but it did them no good, because when they heard it, they did not accept it with faith." (GNB)

©1984 Graham Maxwell

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