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Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Our Problem with faith

    Chapter 2: Our Understanding of God's Solution

    1. God Our Creator
    2. The Law of God
    3. The Character of God
    4. The Character of Jesus Christ
    5. Jesus Acts Out His Love for Humanity
    6. Our Surety in Christ
    7. The Nature of Our Battle
    8. How Do We Win This Battle?
    9. Satan Ensures That a Lack of True Love and Grace Will Prevail
    10. The Last Days and Ezekiel 9
    11. Is Our Faith Presumption?
    12. Overcoming Sin
    13. New Creatures in Christ
    14. Not Works Alone
    15. A Gift From God
    16. How Do We Know If We Have the Spirit of God?
    17. How Does Faith Work?
    18. Others Who Have Gone Before Us
    19. Partaking of His Nature
    20. Jesus Is Our Strength in Battle, Our Rock of Salvation, and Our Friend

    Chapter 3: Our Experience in Christ

Our understanding of God's solution

Teach me thy way, O LORD;
I will walk in thy truth:
unite my heart to fear thy name.

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart:
and I will glorify thy name for evermore.

For great is thy mercy toward me:
and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

Psalm 86:11-13 KJV

God Our Creator

God is our only hope for survival yet we know so little about Him. Let us begin by trying to understand God more fully. Who is God? What does He enjoy doing? Why does He create? Why did He make us the way He did? Why does God allow Satan to tempt us?

Our information is sketchy but we can at least try to understand some of the basic facts about God. We know that God is all powerful and that He is above anything we know. In Isaiah, this is indicated: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place." Isaiah 57:15(first part).

We also know that God has created everything that is around us. This includes all the galaxies and matter that exists within and beyond our sight. We can see this mentioned in places throughout the Bible: "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." Psalm 33:6,9.

An interesting aspect about God is that He does not create things by Himself. Apparently God the Father and God the Son, create things together. Paul makes mention of this: "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." 1 Corinthians 8:6.

Christ actually took part in the activities of God Himself. Listen to a proverb that speaks of Jesus when He created the world with His Father: "When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the deep: When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him." Proverbs 8:27-30.

Something special must happen between them when They create things. Evidently the Father and Christ, previously called Michael, are able to share in this process of designing and building things to such a level of satisfaction and depth that no created being is able to experience or share.

We can see that they took extreme pleasure in creating things. This work of creating must be a great delight to God. In addition, we can see that God takes extreme pleasure in having a companion that He can share the whole experience with, someone who knows as He knows.

Mrs. White describes the manner in which the Father and Son created things together: "The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate-a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings... Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father-one in nature, in character, in purpose-the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God." Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34.

The intricacies of God's creations are beyond our understanding. We don't even know what matter is, which is the basic stuff that we are made out of. We are created beings and are limited in our abilities. None of us can begin to understand or even think of sharing in this process of creating as God creates.

Long ago Lucifer wanted to be included in the creation process. God, however, did not invite him to help with the creation of this world. In this situation God had to tell him that he had nothing to contribute. Lucifer was limited in his abilities just as we are limited in the things of God. He could not create but he so blinded himself with jealousy against Jesus that he just would not listen.

Scripture is very plain in describing his intentions: "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." Isaiah 14:13-14. (Read all of Isaiah 14 for more insight.)

Mrs. White shows us that God put a stop to Lucifer's immediate aspirations while indicating that Christ was equal with the Father: "Christ had been taken into the special counsel of God in regard to his plans, while Satan was unacquainted with them. He did not understand, neither was he permitted to know, the purposes of God. But Christ was acknowledged sovereign of Heaven, His power and authority to be the same as that of God himself." Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 1, p. 18.

When we look at the things that God has made, we are actually looking at the very heart and soul of God. Delight and rejoicing are heard when They are together creating things. Throughout scripture we can see glimpses that God enjoyed what He did. Just look at the language that God Himself speaks when He created this world: "And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." Genesis 1:31. If we read the whole first chapter we can see that He says this repeatedly. They are creating things together and they obviously enjoy commenting to each other about the joys that they find in the world they had just created.

When we read in between the lines of Scripture, we can begin to see reasons why God creates. In Colossians we get a hint: "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him." Colossians 1:16. God makes things for Himself. This is a clue that God literally enjoys His creations. He made them so He could enjoy them.

There are other reasons why God creates. God not only enjoys us, His creations, but He loves us as well. Because He loves us, He ensures that we are well taken care of. In addition to our physical needs, God cares for both our mental and spiritual needs. He creates object lessons that enable us to grow to a closer likeness of Him who made us. Mrs. White speaks of these things as well: "The glory of God is displayed in his handiwork. Here are mysteries that the mind will become strong in searching out. . .

"If the frivolous and pleasure-seeking will allow their minds to dwell upon the real and true, the heart cannot but be filled with reverence, and they will adore the God of nature. The contemplation and study of God's character as revealed in his created works will open a field of thought that will draw the mind away from low, debasing, enervating amusements.

"So through the creation we are to become acquainted with the Creator. The book of nature is a great lesson-book, which in connection with the Scriptures we are to use in teaching others of His character, and guiding lost sheep back to the fold of God. As the works of God are studied, the Holy Spirit flashes conviction into the mind. . .

"But the knowledge of God's works and ways we can only begin to obtain in this world; the study will be continued throughout eternity. God has provided for man subjects of thought which will bring into activity every faculty of the mind. We may read the character of the Creator in the heavens above and the earth beneath, filling the heart with gratitude and thanksgiving. Every nerve and sense will respond to the expressions of God's love in His marvelous works." The Watchman, Nov. 3, 1908.

If we observe the things of His creation, we can see that God makes statements about Himself in His creations. He actually explains Himself to the whole universe by the things that He Himself makes. In addition He expresses the sharing process of His creating in the created worlds that He makes.

This must be so since the things He has made reflect that very fact. Let's look at an example: God must have been lonely at one time because He made us and the other created worlds. When God made us, He gave us the same attributes that He has in Himself. We find we are also lonely without companionship.

He must have loved us before we were created. He loved us to such an extent that our words cannot express the depth of His love for us. We can also envision that God would be a lonely God without His equal co-worker, His companion, by His side. We can see that God likes company.

We have other attributes which mirror God's attributes as well. God has given us the same power to think and act. He also has placed us at the head of this world which mirrors God's position in the Universe. He is at the head of all creation and we are at the head of this world.

It is important to see How God created our world because we can learn more about our Creator. God actually makes statements about Himself in nature as He creates. It is through this process that God explains Himself to the whole universe.

These things become even clearer when we look at the manner in which God created our world. Look at the example of the creation of man. God creates a man in the image of Himself in a world of lesser beings. Then the man, Adam, finds that he is lonely on his own. He finds this out himself. In this God agrees, "Yes, Adam is lonely." (God would be lonely in that situation as well.) It is only after Adam realizes his loneliness that God works to provide a mate for him. In this process God makes it very clear to both Adam and the watching universe that Adam would be lonely without Eve.

These things give special clues indicating who and what God is and how He acts. These things concern our existence and the existence of the whole universe.

When Satan rebelled, because he was not included in the planning of this world, he began to make charges against God. At that point God had to show the whole universe why Satan could not even begin to understand or contribute to the creation of this world. He did this by creating into our world special aspects of Himself.

This act was necessary because He wanted the loyalty of the whole universe and this loyalty was possible only when they knew God and His character more fully. The situation that Lucifer had created resulted in unrest and conflict; however, each created being in this conflict is now being tested for his loyalty to God and also they are being tested for their knowledge of God as well. This process will eventually stabilize the whole populated universe giving the intelligent beings better reasons for loving and trusting their Creator more fully.

In addition to the manner in which this world was created, we can also see that there were very special circumstances that surrounded the creation of our world. This knowledge should help us understand the relation between God and His creations even further.

By creating our world God showed that even in the presence of all the angels of heaven and all the worlds in His vast domain, He could be lonely. God also is not able to share with us fully because we are just not able to understand. Neither do we have the power to act in creating.

Adam illustrated the predicament that God Himself was in. Adam in the presence of the whole animal kingdom was still lonely and God made sure that all would understand this. The animals could not reason with Adam nor understand his description of his feelings. Even the presence of angels could not fully satisfy Adam's longing for someone like himself. Adam needed someone who could think like himself, who could have the same experiences as he.

When Eve was finally created Adam found that in his day to day living, he could share best with his wife the joys and plans that he had. She was his life's companion. In addition, the presence of the animals greatly increased the joys that they could share with each other. The animals could also respond in their own way with love to their masters. God actually created a microcosm of Heaven on earth.

The Law of God

If we can understand that what God makes are extensions of Himself, then we can expand our own knowledge of God in other areas as well. Since everything that God has ever made reflects His character and His very being, we now understand more fully why the law of God could not have been done away with. God made the law so it reflected Himself. His character was in that law. This is why it was as sacred as Himself. Everything that He is and stands for is in that law. Listen to how Mrs. White describes the value of the law of God: "The law of God is as sacred as Himself. It is a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and wisdom. Through the ages that law has been preserved as the highest standard of morality. God's law is the security of life and property, of peace and happiness. It was given to secure our present and eternal good. A thoughtful kindness runs through every enactment. Each commandment is an enactment of mercy, love and saving power." Review and Herald, July 15, 1909.

Now we can begin to understand why it was necessary for Jesus to die for us on the cross. The law could not be ignored. On it rests the foundation of the whole universe. It is the expression of the joy and love of the creator Himself. He would be going against His own nature if He ignored the law. We can also begin to understand how we can bring joy to our Creator. We are His creation which was designed to exhibit His very character. He loves to have His love in us.

The Character of God

What would it be like to live with God for eternity? Since all His creation reflects His character, what can we expect Heaven or the Universe to be like? Is God kind? Is He gentle? Would He love us? These questions and many more may help us further direct our study of our Creator. We should be able to get an indication as to what God is like from the information He has already provided us.

From my own reading of the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy I have found this God to be so wonderful, so loving, so powerful, so just, that all heaven worships Him. In Revelation 4, 5, and 19 we can see that this is exactly what happens in heaven. They worship Him not just with polite respect as what we find here on this world, but with the complete adoration and deep love that seems to prevail in heaven. It is with deep love and pleasure that they worship Him.

They have seen how He has conducted His side of the war against Satan and they can hardly contain themselves. Crying out they exclaim: "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come! You are worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created." Revelation 4:8(last part),11. From Scripture itself we see scenes in heaven of angels who are praising God with all their hearts. In spontaneous accord, the angels actually prostrate themselves throwing their crowns at the feet of Him who actually loves them more than they do Him.

This is no scene that we can even imagine here on earth. Most people on earth are literally slaves to both self and Satan; thus, they act just like Satan and his fallen angels. Read the following description of Satan and his slaves and see if it matches what we "know" to be human nature. "Lucifer desired God's power, but not His character. He sought for himself the highest place, and every being who is actuated by his spirit will do the same. Thus alienation, discord, and strife will be inevitable. Dominion becomes the prize of the strongest. The kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of force; every individual regards every other as an obstacle in the way of his own advancement, or a steppingstone on which he himself may climb to a higher place." Desire of Ages, pp. 435-436.

Heaven, unlike Satan's plan for the earth, is a place that is populated with beings who work more for others than for themselves. It is a place where angels, unselfish in nature, live to reflect their Creator. They do this with everything they accomplish.

The angels got that way by studying the source of their own love. They spend all of their time in the pursuit of a greater knowledge of their Creator. By studying His creations, and in following the dictates of His wishes, they gain ever greater insights into His wonders. All this helps them to possess a greater realization of the values and character of God that they themselves would like to have. This is the source of their joy.

This continual exploration of God will always expand since God's resources are unlimited. In addition, the creations that God has made were made specifically to teach created beings. We can read in Psalms: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handywork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge." Psalm 19:1-2.

Mrs. White makes this even clearer as she explains how our original world was made to instruct us: "When our creator formed the world to be a habitation for man, its arrangements were prepared by the God of wisdom to help the mental as well as the physical wants of man. The great architect has formed and fashioned the scenes of nature that they may have an important bearing upon man's intellectual and moral character. Manuscript 73, 1886, pp. 2,3. (Released August, 1965).

God's wisdom and love for His creations are beyond understanding, deeper than the deepest thoughts of any of His creations. His laws and His universe which He has set in place, is reason for all to stand in awe of His wondrous works.

What would it be like to use the resources of heaven in studying the Creator of the Universe? Imagine being able to study God, whom we all should adore above all else, only to find more and more of His loving character to adore and admire. In everything that they see and understand, they see His character. It must be an amazing place to be so close to God and to have an entire population studying His handiwork.

The Character of Jesus Christ

Let's extend our search to our Saviour. What is Jesus like? Is the Son really like His Father? Does Jesus truly love us? Is He working, even now, to save us for Himself? We need to look at some of these questions if we are going to know Jesus better. Let's look again to the intelligences of heaven to see through their eyes what Jesus is really like.

In Revelation 5 and 19 we can read what the 24 elders shout in heaven: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood. . ." Revelation 5:9.

At this point all of heaven is crying out for everyone to hear: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

"Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Revelation 5: 12,13(part).

We can see that all of heaven is totally awestricken over what Jesus has done. In the great controversy between Christ and Satan, Christ has been their prime area of study. Because of what they know to be true, the angels have chosen to reflect their Jesus in everything they do. In spite of the fact that the angels are without sin (this means they are not rebelling) they have had much to learn about God and His ways.

Christ took all of heaven by surprise when He made it known that He Himself would die for man. Because of this, there became a passionate desire on the part of the angels to have Christ's character not only expressed in themselves but in the human race. Ever since that time, the angels have been in the very center of the conflict, against Satan.

Exciting new insights into the character of God have been realized through this process. We know that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in dying on the cross for us. We also see that the angels in turn have played their part in the story of redemption.

Think about this for a minute. The angels have been putting extreme time and effort for the last 6000 years so that man, when redeemed, can possess a position in heaven that is higher then theirs. Man will be closer to God than the angels. It is easy to see that their joys and wishes are for us. The angels truly have unselfish natures. Yet these beings are only reflecting the nature of God Himself. They stand in total awe over what their Jesus has done to save fallen man. Then they, according to their nature, do the same thing. Jesus can have no greater honor, praise, or love from His angels then to have them spontaneously strive to become like Him.

To have the angels take part in the same war with Christ is both a mystery and a wonder to behold. God must have nothing to hide because this arrangement gives the angels the opportunity to see exactly how Jesus carries Himself in difficult situations. Is Jesus loving? Is He fair even to Satan, His enemy? Remember these angels can see the fairness of the war because they are in the very heat of the battle.

Since Satan is accusing Christ of being unfair, what better way is there for Jesus to conduct the war than to have those who might wonder about Satan's accusations, participate where they can see how both sides choose to fight?

The very nature of both Christ and Satan in this process has become so clear to the angels of God that there is absolutely no question in their minds. They know whom they wish to serve, Christ leads out in love and the angels follow in love.

Jesus Acts Out His Love for Humanity

Imagine for a moment what Jesus has done for us. When man rebelled against God, all heaven reacted in sorrow. The angels thought all was lost. The human race would be forever lost.

Christ, however, had pity on Adam and Eve. He made a way of escape for the human race by pleading with His Father, offering to give His life as a ransom for our lost race. He would take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through His sacrifice man might find pardon.

At first the angels would not rejoice. They could not see their Holy Jesus dying for the rebellious human race, especially when Adam and Eve disregarded Christ's loving words of warning by listening to Lucifer. For selfish reasons Adam and Eve took the deceiver's viewpoint over that of their Creator. They were deceived about God's love for them and they suspected that God was keeping things from them: "And the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'" Genesis 3:3-4.

Notice how Mrs. White describes the manner in which Jesus comforted the angels. "Jesus, however, with holy sadness, comforted and cheered the angels and informed them that hereafter those whom He should redeem would be with Him, and that by His death He should ransom many and destroy him who had the power of death. And His Father would give Him the kingdom and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven. He would possess the throne forever and ever. Satan and sinners would be destroyed, nevermore to disturb heaven or the purified new earth. At this Heaven rejoiced." The Story of Redemption, p. 44. The angels could see that there was much to be won, also they could see that sin would be forever destroyed.

Adam and Eve also realized to some extent the sacrifice that Jesus was to make. Mrs. White describes the heartache they experienced. "When Adam and Eve realized how exalted and sacred was the law of God, the transgression of which made so costly a sacrifice necessary to save them and their posterity from utter ruin, they pleaded to die themselves, or to let them and their posterity endure the penalty of their transgression, rather than that the beloved Son of God should make this great sacrifice. The anguish of Adam was increased. He saw that his sins were of so great magnitude as to involve fearful consequences." The Story of Redemption, p. 47.

We thank God that He did take pity on us, and that He did form the plan of redemption. He formed this plan even before any of our race existed, before the world was created. Read what Peter said years ago: "but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." 1 Peter 1:19-20. It is clear that both God the Father and Jesus, in their foreknowledge, saw the fearful consequences that would fall on them, and yet they did it anyway. This shows how much God truly loves us. He loved us from the very beginning, just like John describes: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.

In order for God to save us in our sinful condition, He has to shock us into reality. It was God's plan to keep the anguish of sin ever before the thoughts of man. The plan of redemption was revealed to Adam and Eve through the sacrificial system to serve this very purpose. It is unfortunate that sin does not seem to be a very big thing in the eyes of people today but it was to Adam and Eve.

Mrs. White describes their reactions to the first sacrifice. "When Adam, according to God's special directions, made an offering for sin, it was to him a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which God alone could give, and make an offering for sin. It was the first time he had witnessed death. As he looked upon the bleeding victim, writhing in the agonies of death, he was to look forward by faith to the Son of God, whom the victim prefigured, who was to die man's sacrifice." The Story of Redemption, p. 50. This scene gave Adam a deeper and more vivid sense of the greatness of his transgression, which nothing but the death of Jesus could correct.

Two thousand years ago Christ came to this world as He had promised. Taking man's fallen nature He was tempted as we are but at an intensity that no man has ever had to endure. Yet He sinned not. Jesus hung on the cross, bearing the weight of our sins on His person that we might be saved from certain death.

Mrs. White describes that terrible scene. "As man's substitute and surety, the iniquity of men was laid upon Christ; He was counted a transgressor that He might redeem them from the curse of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam of every age was pressing upon His heart; and the wrath of God and the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Savior in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. Every pang endured by the Son of God upon the cross, the blood drops that flowed from His head, His hands and feet, the convulsions of agony which racked His frame, and the unutterable anguish that filled His soul at the hiding of His Father's face from Him, speak to man, saying, It is for love of thee that the Son of God consents to have these heinous crimes laid upon Him; for thee He spoils the domain of death, and opens the gates of Paradise and immortal life." The Story of Redemption, p. 225.

Our Surety in Christ

Since Christ has been willing to risk so much, we know that He will continue the mission. We know He will follow through to the very end. He has all of heaven working on this sin problem and we can see that it is in His very nature to finish this great controversy.

We must also realize the love Jesus has for us and that He will not let up His efforts until this problem of sin is resolved. Jesus has paid the ultimate price to save us and He will not forsake us for anything. Jesus is coming again to take us back with Him to heaven. Never forget that!

Listen to the promise He made to all of us. "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:1-3.

This work that Jesus is doing to save us for eternity is beyond our understanding. It is too wonderful to fully fathom that someone would love us so much as to do what Christ has done for us. I am sure we will spend much of our time in heaven, just like the angels, studying His acts and trying to understand how and why He did these things for us.

In addition to our being saved, Jesus will elevate our worth in the universe. This must be so since He has already made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Mrs. White describes the value He places on us. "This sacrifice was of such infinite value as to make a man who should avail himself of it more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." The Story of Redemption, p. 49.

Why is Jesus doing this for us? Here we are, desperately wicked and one step away from destruction, and yet Jesus wishes to place infinite value upon us. We are between a rock and a hard place willing to take anything that may come our way and the Emperor of the universe offers us the Kingdom in a manner so wonderful that it will take an eternity to understand it all.

He is truly our loving Father who has not left our side for even a moment. He is constantly waiting and watching that He may come to save each one of us. Read how Jesus pleads that we allow Him to work in our lives. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:19-20.

How can we fail to respond to His offer? How can we keep ignoring God in our daily lives? We must take matters into our own hands by answering His call. In addition to answering, we must ask Him for help. As Jesus stated when He was on earth, He is waiting for us to ask Him for salvation. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:7-12.

The Nature of Our Battle

Unfortunately the things of heaven and the assurances that Jesus has given us, seem very much removed from the so-called realities of every day living. It is Satan's purpose to keep things that way. Instead of receiving abundant help from above we find ourselves floundering, seemingly left to our own resources. In addition, we find that our loyalties are clearly divided. We love both the world and we want to be saved. In my own life I see that I keep doing things that I know I shouldn't do. In addition to the interests that I have of heaven, I see that I also have interests in this world that seem to disrupt my thoughts of Heaven and God. This clearly brings to my mind my own desperate situation. I enjoy the things of this world in spite of the knowledge that Satan will use these things to destroy me once and for all.

All of us find ourselves in the same situation. We are all desperately wicked; who is it that can save us? As Paul essentially says, in Romans 7:13-24, I am willing to do what is right but when the real test comes I start hedging. I find that my word and my decisions are as sure as shifting sand. Who can save us from this mess? I am in agony over my inner fight to do right.

In this situation, Satan is quick to take advantage any way he can. One of his most powerful tools in his arsenal is discouragement. It is within our own minds that he influences us. He struggles to bring us to that point of despair where we will chuck it all and not fight the battle! He does this by talking to us in our minds. "Who do you think you are kidding? You think you are following God? You are following me! You are trapped and you know it! You keep trying but you always fail. You will never change! You are worthless!" Satan will use any argument he can to discourage the believer.

Remember, Satan doesn't want us to know he is battling with us. So these thoughts are as if we ourselves are thinking them. "I'll never amount to anything, nobody likes me. I wonder why I was born? I wonder what it's like to die? Maybe I should end it all. Nobody cares anyway." (Some people do hear voices, barraging them with a flood of discouragement or worse, Satanic instruction for what they are to do. If this is your experience, please turn to page 106 for where to recieve more information on spiritual warfare. You can be set free!)

Mrs. White was aware of these battles and the deceitful practices that Satan uses against us to control our minds. In her book, The Great Controversy, she emphasizes the need to not only be aware of what is happening but she says that this knowledge will help guard us against Satan's assaults.

"None are in greater danger from the influence of evil spirits than those who, notwithstanding the direct and ample testimony of the Scriptures, deny the existence and agency of the devil and his angels. So long as we are ignorant of their wiles, they have almost inconceivable advantage; many give heed to their suggestions while they suppose themselves to be following the dictates of their own wisdom. This is why, as we approach the close of time, when Satan is to work with greatest power to deceive and destroy, he spreads everywhere the belief that he does not exist. It is his policy to conceal himself and his manner of working.

"There is nothing that the great deceiver fears so much as that we shall become acquainted with his devices. The better to disguise his real character and purposes, he has caused himself to be so represented as to excite no stronger emotion than ridicule or contempt. . .

"And it is because Satan can most readily control the minds of those who are unconscious of his influence, that the word of God gives us so many examples of his malignant work, unveiling before us his secret forces, and thus placing us on our guard against his assaults. The Great Controversy, pp. 516, 517.

From the above statement it seems that Satan uses secrecy in his war against us with great effectiveness. Much of the time there seems to be a war of nerves.

Have you ever felt totally alone, depressed, or sorry for your self? Have you ever had uncontrollable urges or felt like killing yourself? Do you ever become angry and out of control? Have you ever been abusive? Do you ever have shouting matches with your spouse? Have you ever hit your wife or thrown things at your husband? These things are rampant in America; do they happen in your house?

Where do you think depression and hatred come from? Whom are we really fighting when we fight with our spouse or with other people? Is Satan laughing at us while he stirs both sides of the battle against the other?

It is true that we can think and do these things ourselves. However, if there is a Satanic angel by our side, wishing to destroy us, what would he do? What would he try to do? He would take all the advantages that were at his disposal and he would make the matter worse than it already is. He could fuel our emotions and give us ammunition against our opponent who is also being helped with devilish ideas. If we were discouraged or lonely, he could make the situation seem helpless and unbearable.

Mrs. White describes a specific case that describes this very process in the battle.

"A lady thought she had blasphemed the Savior because the tempter kept putting into her mind the thought that Christ was only a man, no more than a good man. She thought that Satan's whisperings were the sentiments of her own heart, and this horrified her. She thought she was denying Christ and her soul was in an agony of distress.

"I assured her that these suggestions of the enemy were not her own thoughts, that Christ understood and accepted her; that she must treat these suggestions as wholly from Satan; that her courage must rise with the strength of the temptation. She must say, 'I am a child of God. I commit myself, body and soul to Jesus, I hate these vain thoughts.' Psalm 119:113.

"I told her not to admit for a moment that they originated with her, not to allow Satan to wound Christ by plunging her into unbelief and discouragement." Manuscript 31, 1911.

Elsewhere Mrs. White strongly advises us of our battleground conditions with the enemy.

"Do not for a moment acknowledge Satan's temptations as being in harmony with your own mind. Turn from them as you would from the adversary himself. Satan's work is to discourage the soul. Christ's work is to inspire the heart with faith and hope. Satan seeks to unsettle our confidence. He tells us that our hopes are built upon false premises, rather than upon the sure, immutable word of Him who cannot lie.

"When he {Satan} suggests doubts as to whether we are really the people whom God is leading, whom by tests and proving He is preparing to stand in the great day, be ready to meet his insinuations by presenting the clear evidence from the Word of God that this is the remnant people who are keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." Our High Calling, p. 85.

In this battle, we have our backs to the wall fighting for our very lives. It's a losing battle with no help visible save Jesus Christ. If we would only stop and think, we would realize that Christ is the only one who can save us. On the other hand, Satan puts forth supreme effort to discourage us from coming to Christ at all. He puts evil thoughts into our minds for the purpose of making us think we are not worthy to be of interest to Christ, or we are forced to think that we ourselves are not one of God's followers. This is a very effective strategy Satan uses to separate us from God. By the very thoughts that Satan brings right into our own minds, we are led to think that we are beyond the help provided by the grace of Jesus.

This conflict is very severe yet we are not totally aware of it. Except for our own inner struggling we see no real outside influence in our lives. Essentially, we are led to think that it is we who are warring against God. Instead of asking for help we are convinced not to pray for help of any kind. Even worse, we may be tempted to take our own life to escape the oppression we find in ourselves.

This puts us into a tight spot for there is literally no way out of this situation. We are trapped! Satan's words to us become true because we fail to ask God for our deliverance. Instead, what we do is to take the only option left to us, death and destruction. We live in a hopeless stupor, continuing on as if we could set things right ourselves yet realizing that not all is right. This philosophy is similar to secular humanism, which ignores that there even is a Devil. Essentially this teaching states that we are alone in this world with our own devices. No invisible force is affecting us, and if we can only get our act together we will be able to change ourselves by our own strength.

With us in this condition, Satan has a heyday. He is then able to mold our character into his own selfish nature for any purpose he wants, or worse; Satan may force us to end our life which effectively separates us from God for eternity. Thus Satan keeps God from ever working in our lives to save us. He is ensuring his own control over that person.

The warning from Peter should forcibly remind us of the seriousness of our situation without Christ! "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8.

We can't let Satan do this to us! We need to cry out to the only hope in this world that we have, to Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. He is our Redeemer and Counselor from on high. It is He alone who can save us from this tangled net. We desperately need to make that decision in asking Him for help. If only we would ask then we would receive help. He has promised to shift the battle from our hopeless struggle to the place where Christ takes the lead in the battle. Mrs. White speaks of it in this way:

"The Christian life is a warfare. But 'we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places'. (Ephesians 6:12) In this conflict of righteousness against unrighteousness we can be successful only by divine aid." Messages to Young People, p. 55.

How Do We Win This Battle?

It is by divine aid that our battles can be won. However, in this battle God does not run against our will. He does not force Himself on us. He respects our freedom of choice. In fact, Christ's leading in our lives requires the exercising of our will. If we ignore His call, He will not force Himself into our lives.

Since God so values our will, it is imperative that we ask for help and protection. If we don't ask, Satan and his evil angels will have full reign over us. We will be helpless. On the other hand, with God's presence and protection we can win in this battle.

We need to remember the words of Christ: "If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 14:23;15:9-11.

We need to ask our only dependable Friend how to win this battle. Jesus will definitely not let us down. Not only has He already shown Himself to be capable but He has also shown Himself to be willing to help us in this battle. We need to ask Jesus how to inherit eternal life! He will not ignore us. Instead he will lead us to the portals of His Kingdom!

Fortunately others have asked just such a question. We can read about it in Luke: "And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live." Luke 10:25-28.

What does it mean to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind? If actions are louder than words; if our love means anything to us at all, then in our love to Jesus, will we not express our love in the things we do? I think this is speaking of true love, not just the emotions but the actions that spring from our feelings.

If we find that we don't have His love and His joy, then shouldn't we be asking God for the knowledge and ability to love Him with all our hearts? In my own battles I have often found that when the real temptation comes along, the one that I enjoy, that I almost always choose the short-termed enjoyment that Satan has planned out for me. I seem to love these things more than I love God.

In anguish I have thought and thought concerning how I might be changed. My only conclusion is that I ask Him for the ability to love Him and for the ability to choose Him over evil. I need to love Him so much that I would rather die than disappoint Him. I must love to please Him more than the committing of the sins that I once loved.

You see I'm like a trapped animal that is facing death. My only way out is to love God. But I can't! I know I can't force myself to love anybody. What I really want is safety. Who wants to be destroyed? I don't, I want to live forever. All of this has gone through my mind, especially the fact that I am coming to Him for purely selfish reasons.

In spite of all this, God takes me in this sinful condition. After all, I have truly come to Him. This is what He wants me to do. It allows Him to work in my behalf; remember, He values our will. So He is able and willing to change me no matter what my motive really was; in fact, He can change even my selfish motives that brought me to Him.

In this experience I have found that loving the Lord with all my heart is the motive for gaining the victory. He enables me to love him and He also diminishes my love for sin as well! He does both of these things for me since I can't even begin to be successful on my own. The more time I spend with Jesus, the more strength and love He gives me for the battle. This is an important key to winning the war. Also the more He helps me in my battles, the more reason I have to love Him. In addition, He redirects my thoughts, allowing me to think of heaven and His soon coming. These things give me hope and courage and a reason for living.

Before we continue in this discussion, we need to look at some of the reasons why we lack this love.

Satan Ensures That a Lack of True
Love and Grace Will Prevail

Satan is constantly working to ensure that our separation from God is permanent. The Devil does this by influencing all the avenues of communication that he has in his control. In addition, we help Satan by not striving to gain direct communication with the Lord ourselves. Instead we depend on the sources of information and inspiration that Satan already has under his control! This is why true love and grace are almost absent in our lives.

The Bible is especially being attacked. It has been so long since most of us have really studied our Bibles that the importance of The Book has been forgotten. It is viewed as a boring book not to be really read or studied. In reality, our awareness of our need for the book has been lost. The acute realization of its usefulness in our lives is missing as well. Instead there is a feeling that the book is devoid of the daily realities of life. We do feel the book to be special; however, Satan has successfully crowded other things into our lives so that we have literally forgotten what the Bible truly should mean for us. The Bible doesn't seem special enough for us to pick up and read. We have no driving reason to understand the book.

Is it true that we have allowed Satan to divert our minds? Have we lost communion with God? Yes, I'm afraid so. Most of us no longer think of the choicest of all prizes. Instead, the temporary pleasures we have in this world are at the center. We need to think about this. Satan is working to separate us from Christ and happiness; and he is being quite successful at it as well.

Satan is very careful in not allowing any light to flash our way. Our own Laodicean condition is not mentioned to our faces at all, or if it is, it is done in such a way that we accept it. We acknowledge that we are luke warm, and then, not do anything, as if we are satisfied with our condition. All is kept quiet. Satan is hard at work keeping things quiet. All is considered quite normal and very safe. Sermons in church don't seem to mention the fact that we urgently need to confess our sins and be made new. Instead, what we hear is: stay with the Church because the Church is going through and we need to be a part of it.

We are all guilty of this Laodicean condition. Deep down inside we know that the information found in the Bible is the major all important asset of our lives. We ourselves need to be warned! I am talking to both you and myself. It is surprising how much I forget to use the things that God has shown all of us. We have the greatest message in the world; however, if we allow other things to crowd in, it is surprising how fast it all fades away. Make no mistake about it. This is supernaturally conducted. It is only by our connection to God that we can be saved against this onslaught. We need to wake out of our slumber and use the time that we have to make use of the mercy that Jesus has given us. Mrs. White was almost beside herself with dread as she described the supernatural battle occurring around a sleeping church.

"What shall I say to arouse the remnant people of God? I was shown that dreadful scenes are before us; Satan and his angels are bringing all their powers to bear upon God's people. He knows that if they sleep a little longer he is sure of them, for their destruction is certain. I warn all who profess the name of Christ to closely examine themselves and make full and thorough confession of all their wrongs, that they may go beforehand to judgment, and that the recording angel may write pardon opposite their names. My brother, my sister, if these precious moments of mercy are not improved, you will be left without excuse." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 263.

This situation is getting worse. Movements within our church are emphasizing the emotional side of our faith without the substance of faith. In fact, it is even stated by some, that certain people respond only to the emotional side of religion. So we must reach them in a special way.

A recent change within our church is the Celebration movement. This movement allows us to feel more religious without having to come to Christ for the eradication of our sins. Love is preached without all the actions of that love. The Love of Jesus is often mentioned with tears; however, many of Christ's actions, showing us that He truly loves us, are ignored. The very heart of our message has been torn out of the common discussions in our daily spiritual lives. In its place is emotional acceptance without a need to be changed.

Today we have gospel sermons which are devoid of the Gospel, which is the good news that Jesus is coming soon to save us. Mrs. White describes these church sermons which are missing the message that is needed by our congregations: "There are more souls longing to understand how they may come to Christ than we imagine. Many listen to popular sermons from the pulpit and know no better than before they listened how to find Jesus and the peace and rest which their souls desire. Ministers who preach the last message of mercy to the world should bear in mind that Christ is to be exalted as the sinner's refuge. The people are more ignorant in regard to the plan of salvation and need more instruction upon this all-important subject than upon any other." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 394.

One of the evidences that we do not have the grace and righteousness of Christ is found within our own thoughts; we actually think we are good! This is part of Satan's ploy to keep us from realizing that there is an urgent lack in our lives! If we feel in no special danger we will not be induced to urgently study for ourselves. In fact, it is Satan's studied purpose to keep us from the Bible. It is the Bible through the Holy Spirit that convinces us of sin. Mrs. White mentions this condition as one which is totally lacking in Grace. "He who feels whole, who thinks that he is reasonably good, and is contented with his condition, does not seek to become a partaker of the grace and righteousness of Christ." Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 7.

One of the main tenets of the Celebration movement is that we accept people where they are. We are to love people into the church. This concept is a really nice change from the judging that has taken place in our churches for some time. I see nothing wrong with this. In fact, our love should be like that of no other group of people on the face of the earth. We should have the same tenderness for people as Jesus had when He was on earth.

What I do object to is the process of condemning that person to a life of sin. In a Celebration church we are not warned about our cherished sins, nor are we warned that these sins could keep us out of heaven. How can we truly say we love God when we have cherished sins that we will not give up? This is evidence that we don't love God enough to follow His example of love. Instead there is no special urgency for getting sin out of our lives through Christ's saving grace. If we do not give Jesus our sins, how can He take them away from us? We are stuck with the sinful state that Satan would have us be in.

This is a presuming faith that is contrary to the truth of Scripture. Yes, God accepts us as we are but does He keep us where we are? Essentially the message of love is preached but without the actions of that love. If we say we love someone but never show it, then there really is no love at all. If we never warn people of the danger that is coming where is our love? Brother and Sister, our love is non-existent! It is a false love and it allows Satan to destroy us.

This is what Paul was speaking of in his letter to the Roman church. "For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." Romans 10:2-3.

Christ dying on the cross is a key point of our faith. But what is it that He did for us? Does God now ignore our continued sinning with no thought of change by providing us with His robe of righteousness? Or does God plan to have us follow the example that Jesus Christ Himself gave us when He was in this world?

Let's rephrase the question. Does God cover only our sins or does He also have in mind a change for us on this earth that would draw others to His grace as well?

I am not ignoring the fact that Christ forgives us our sins. Nor am I saying that we will not make mistakes. We can look at the lives of the historical men in the Bible. All of these great men, such as David, Moses, and Elijah, have made mistakes. God has forgiven them of their sins as He can and will forgive us of our sins if we ask. However, we can also see that these men who connected themselves with God became different. They chose to follow God and they became like Him. This is what God wants to happen in each one of us. The robe of righteousness is not a mechanism for continual hypocrisy but a mechanism for change where we actually put on the righteousness of Jesus. He does not just forgive us, He also influences us that we may be changed.

The Last Days and Ezekiel 9

Now in the last days, we are approaching the time of trouble when Jesus will cease his intercessory labors. At that time, there will be no new forgiveness of sins. The 144,000 will live without an intercessor. They will not need one. They will be at that time living a life that Christ showed was possible when He lived on this earth. See what an angel said to John: "Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?' And I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' So he said to me, 'These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'" Revelation 7:13-14. Thus the last generation will show that Satan's charges were totally groundless concerning God and His Law.

If we are the last generation to live on this earth, then we need to take stock of our situation. The church was set up in the last days not only to train the last generation to work for His cause but also to prepare them for the return of Jesus. This preparation is evident in Paul's letter to the Corinthian church: "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:4-8.

Should not the church be helping us prepare for that time when there will not be an intercessor in the heavenly temple? It is logical that it should, but instead, the church through the Celebration movement does the opposite. The Celebration movement seems to be specifically designed to keep us from realizing the seriousness of the time that we are living in. It is designed to keep us from preparing for that time when we will not have an intercessor in heaven. Just ahead of us is the time when the scenes spoken to us by Jesus through Daniel and John, are to occur. Eternity is before us. How can we celebrate when the worst time yet in the history of this world is still ahead of us and also our own souls are still filled with sin?

If we celebrate with no care in the world, with no thought of sin, and with emotion and little substance, we will be by-passed by God. The angels who place God's mark on His people will pass us by and go to those who are confessing their sins and agonizing over the things they see.

Look at this vision that Ezekiel had from God: "And the LORD said to him, 'Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.'" Ezekiel 9:4.

Mrs. White uses this text to show what this means to the last generation: "this company vex(es) their souls over the corruptions and iniquity abounding around them, and God will recognize those who are sighing and crying because of the abominations done in the land. They were not mixed up in these abominations. They had not corrupted their ways before God, but had washed their robes of character and had made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Manuscript Release, Volume 4, p. 250.

These people with the mark of God truly love God or else they would not be so concerned over the corruptions of the church. Remember, it is the love of God in them that hates the sin and corruption.

This love motivation is very different from the fanatical motivation many have today in using Ezekiel 9. Today many condemn not only the sin but the sinner as well. The sinner is the one that we want to save. Why would we want to condemn him?

If we read Ezekiel 9 we find Exekiel himself collapsing under the strain of seeing the execution of his people before him. In agony he cries out to God: Are you going to destroy the whole remnant of Israel with your wrath? In response God tells Ezekiel that the people are hardened in their sin and will not change. Therefore He will not have pity for them.

Yes God is both a righteous and fair judge but is it our place to judge? We must accept his actions since we know He is both just and loving, but we also must pray that His will be done in the lives involved. We need to pray for those who sin and don't care. We need to pray for the church that abominations be stopped. If God needs to give a stern judgement than pray that His will be done but we need to have the same loving motivation for our own church as Ezekiel had for his people.

I often get very frustrated over the things I see in the church and over what I personally do. Satan has too much control over my life (any control of his is too much). I don't just look to being forgiven but I want to be cured of this curse of sin. I want to be able to praise God with my life here on earth. I want to lead others to Jesus. I also want to hear from the lips of my Savior "Well done thou good and faithful servant!"

Is Our Faith Presumption?

We need to be positive about our salvation. This usually means that we put a positive outlook to our position with God. But this is not what we need. We can't afford to be uncertain of our redemption or worse, to have a positive viewpoint of ourselves when it is not true. The worst situation we might ever find ourselves in is to find our faith built on presumption not knowing Christ when we think we do know him! Mrs. White spoke on this very point.

"I speak plainly. I do not think this will discourage a true Christian; and I do not want any of you to come up to the time of trouble without a well-grounded hope in your Redeemer. Determine to know the worst of your case. Ascertain if you have an inheritance on high. Deal truly with your own soul. Remember that a church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, will Jesus present to His Father.

"How are you to know that you are accepted of God? Study His word prayerfully. Lay it not aside for any other book. This Book convinces of sin. It plainly reveals the way of salvation. It brings to view a bright and glorious reward. It reveals to you a complete Saviour, and teaches you that through His boundless mercy alone can you expect salvation.

"Do not neglect secret prayer, for it is the soul of religion. With earnest, fervent prayer, plead for purity of soul. Plead as earnestly, as eagerly, as you would for your mortal life, were it at stake. Remain before God until unutterable longings are begotten within you for salvation, and the sweet evidence is obtained of pardoned sin.

"The hope of eternal life is not to be received upon slight grounds. It is a subject to be settled between God and your own soul-settled for eternity. A supposed hope, and nothing more, will prove your ruin. Since you are to stand or fall by the word of God, it is to that word you must look for testimony in your case. There you can see what is required of you to become a Christian. Do not lay off your armor, or leave the battlefield until you have obtained the victory, and triumph in your Redeemer." Testimonies for the Church, Vol.1, p. 163.

There are many who are not aware that their faith is nothing more than a presuming faith. The peace that is promised is absent and they must go on longing for more.

Remember, the hope of eternal life is not something to think about casually. It is a subject to be settled between God and us. We must strive to have a faith that is based on our first hand knowledge of God and His presence. We must know for ourselves what it is to know and to depend upon Christ for our existence. This is the key to overcoming sin.

Overcoming Sin

Jesus came here for the purpose of saving us from our sins, as it is stated in Matthew: "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21.

God sent His Son so that we through Christ might be saved from our sins. He will take our sins away from us. This does not mean we are only forgiven. It means that we will no longer be forced to sin. God will give us the victory over Satan so we will be able to do the will of our Father. Mrs. White so eloquently speaks on the taking away of our sins by Christ.

"The religion of Christ means more than the forgiveness of sin; it means taking away our sins, and filling the vacuum with the graces of the Holy Spirit. It means divine illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a heart emptied of self, and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ. When Christ reigns in the soul, there is purity, freedom from sin. The glory, the fullness, the completeness of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love, perfect assurance. The beauty and fragrance of the character of Christ revealed in the life testifies that God has indeed sent His Son into the world to be its Saviour." Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 419, 420.

The Holy Spirit fills the vacuum left by the absence of our sins. So, when we have Christ take our sins from us, we will be able to exhibit the graces of the Holy Spirit. This is direct evidence that Jesus did indeed come to save us from our sins, not in them.

In John's book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, we see that everything depends upon our overcoming of our sins. All the gifts of the Spirit are dependent upon the vacuum that is left when our sins are taken away from us. That is why the reward is given only to those that overcome. Lets look at how John the revelator describes the gifts of the overcomers:

"To him that overcomes I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

"He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.

"To him that overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

"And he that overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potter's vessels shall be broken to pieces'-as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.

"He that overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

"Him that overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

"To him that overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21. (some verses in part)

Christ did not change. He spoke in the same vein when He was in this world. "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-20.

Let's remember that the overcoming of our sins is the result of our trust and faith in Jesus. If we truly believe we will be these things in Christ. Read what John says concerning our lives in Him: "God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to be sharing in His life while we go on living in darkness, our words and our lives are a lie. But if we live in the light as He Himself is in the light, then we share a common life, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." 1 John 1:5(part),6-7.

The world basically serves Satan. We must serve a different master, a loving master who would have us be of priceless worth. We need to become like him in every way possible. After all we love Him, don't we? If we don't love Him, we need to ask Him for help. Remember, it is God who changes us.

We are to be different than the rest of the world because we are followers of a loving God, not a satanic power that is only out to destroy us! We must possess the transforming love of Christ that will allow us to have God's law in our hearts. Remember, God makes this all possible when we believe in Christ. Mrs. White describes what will happen when we receive Christ. "The disciples of Christ must obtain righteousness of a different character from that of the Pharisees, if they would enter the kingdom of heaven. God offered them, in His Son, the perfect righteousness of the law. If they would open their hearts fully to receive Christ, then the very life of God, His love, would dwell in them, transforming them into His own likeness; and thus through God's free gift they would possess the righteousness which the law requires." Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 54.

New Creatures in Christ

How is it that we can become changed? How do we receive Christ into our hearts? Jesus made it plain to Nicodemus years ago.

"Jesus answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God'... Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." John 3:3,5-6.

We need to be born again. We need to be made new. His love needs to dwell in us transforming us and our actions into His own likeness.

What exactly will being born again do to us? What will we become? This is a fascinating truth we must look at. There seems to be a metamorphosis in our whole being. Look at Paul's description in Colossians. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Colossians 5:17.

We are totally changed and made new. At this point the new things in Christ become part of this new creature or new man. The old and former things that we experienced with Satan are passed away. They become less interesting to us as the things of God fill our minds. This is important! Our interests actually change. This is how we are changed, we actually begin enjoying the things of God.

Not Works Alone

We are to be a new creature with a new likeness of Him. It is clear that we cannot do this work on our own. Even to suggest that we can at this point is ridiculous. However, let's reinforce in our own minds why works by themselves do not solve our problem. Mrs. White describes this manner of self works by the Jews in Christ's time. Let's look at it.

"In their professed service to God, the Jews were really working for self. Their righteousness was the fruit of their own efforts to keep the law according to their own ideas and for their own selfish benefit. Hence it could be no better than they were. In their endeavor to make themselves holy, they were trying to bring a clean thing out of an unclean." Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 54.

The problem with self-works is that the sinner is denying himself the things that he really enjoys. Thus, he finds that he is always in battle with himself. He is divided. Only through determined effort will this kind of battle be kept up. Eventually his true colors show up. He will break down and do what he really wanted to do, forgetting about being "good".

He truly does not love God. He denies himself only of the things he likes so he can get to heaven. Many of us start out this way, but if we allow God to work in our lives, then He will change us. We will then be at peace with God and ourselves.

A Gift From God

The grace that God gives us is a gift from God Himself. We can see this in both the Old and New Testament:

"'This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,' says the LORD." Isaiah 54:17(last part).

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Phillipians 2:12-13.

When we allow God to work fully in us we will then be able to do His good pleasure. This gift from God is a privilege to those who totally believe in Jesus. Mrs. White refers to this privilege as living without sin.

"To every one who surrenders fully to God is given the privilege of living without sin, in obedience to the law of heaven." Review and Herald, Sept. 27, 1906, p. 4.

This is really something. If we give everything to God, then God will change us, allowing us the privileges of living without sin. It is because God loves us that He has promised this privilege to us. The only stipulation to all of this is that we will surrender to the most loving Being in the universe.

Please remember, God values our will. He made us free moral agents rather than robots. He wants us to think and to know. Because of this He does not work magic against our will, He does not force His will against our will. Instead our will must work in partnership with His grace. We must allow God to give us the privileges He so desires us to have. See how Mrs. White describes how this works.

"As a little child, come to God, presenting yourself as suppliant at His feet; for we need not ascend into the heavens to bring Jesus down; nor into the earth to bring Him up; for He is ever near us. He says, 'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me' (Rev. 3:20). How willing is Christ to take possession of the soul temple if we will let Him! He is represented as waiting and knocking at the door of the heart. Then why does He not enter? It is because the love of sin has closed the door of the heart. As soon as we consent to give sin up, to acknowledge our guilt, the barrier is removed between the soul and the Saviour." 1 Selected Messages, p. 325.

Mrs. White describes the condition of the world and why people do not want to be saved. In contrast she describes the righteous as partakers of divine nature.

"The reason why the unbelieving world are not saved is that they do not choose to be enlightened. The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices, they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again." Review and Herald, April 12, 1892, p. 9.

These are precious promises. "As soon as we consent to give sin up, to acknowledge our guilt, the barrier is removed between the soul and the Saviour." "To every one who surrenders fully to God is given the privilege of living without sin, in obedience to the law of heaven." This is what it means to believe in God.

Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature. We must take hold of these promises, pray over them and be transformed so that our lives will give evidence of our relationship to Christ. Jesus is only waiting until we surrender everything to him.

Jesus has paid the ultimate price in such a way as to amaze the whole universe. He did so that we might have a chance to accept His Spirit and be saved. If we don't study these promises, if we don't choose to accept His gift of eternal life through these promises, then we dishonor God in our refusal of His grace.

How Do We Know If We Have the Spirit of God?

If salvation is a gift, how do we know if we have that gift? How do we know if we are new creatures in Christ? How do we know if we have the Spirit of God in our hearts and lives? These questions are answered by the following quotes from John and Mrs. White.

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35.

"Will not those who profess to be Christians walk in the light of the Sun of Righteousness showing by their life and character that they realize the value of the atoning sacrifice of Christ our Saviour? The truth is not to be rendered lusterless by a manifestation of our own unsanctified, selfish spirit. The truth must shine forth in the life; then Christ is glorified. . .

"The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ." Manuscript Releases, Vol. 12, p. 51.

How Does Faith Work?

We need to look at the very process of reaching out to Jesus. We know that when we do reach out, our hearts are changed, but what is it exactly that God gives to change us?

Is it just because we tend to become more like the things we spend time with ("by beholding we become changed"), or is it that God physically changes us? Maybe both are true.

Mrs. White describes this process of changing from a state of filthy rags to the righteousness of Christ. Maybe we can get some help from her.

"This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. 'All our righteousness are as filthy rags.' Isaiah 64:6. Everything that we of ourselves can do is defiled by sin. But the Son of God 'was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin.' Sin is defined to be 'the transgression of the law.' 1 John 3:5,4. But Christ was obedient to every requirement of the law. He said of Himself, 'I delight to do Thy will, O My God; yea, Thy law is within My heart.' Psalm 40:8. When on earth, He said to His disciples, 'I have kept My Father's commandments.' John 15:10. By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God's commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah." Christ's Object Lessons, p. 311.

If our hearts are united, if our wills are united, then our minds become one. All this happens so we can live His life, the life He wanted for us originally. If we choose to follow Him and do so by inviting Him into all the aspects of our life, then we will be changed by Him. We will obey God's law perfectly. We will be a new person.

Others Who Have Gone Before Us

We have seen that many promises have been given to us. Also we know that prayer is central to the whole process of merging our will with His will; thus, we know that God can make dramatic changes in us. What we now need is the reassurance that comes in reviewing the examples of others who have gone this road before us. Let's wrestle with Scripture in doing this so we can know for ourselves what God can do for us today. Scripture was written so we can learn from their mistakes.

Let's look at the first three chapters of Daniel. In this story you will see faith in action. The faith in these young men, Daniel and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; resulted in the actions we see in their lives. There is so much in this story.

Mrs. White makes some comments that I think we should note: "When the four Hebrew youth were receiving an education for the king's court in Babylon, they did not feel that the blessing of the Lord was a substitute for the taxing effort required of them. They were diligent in study; for they discerned that through the grace of God their destiny depended upon their own will and action. They were to bring all their ability to the work; and by close, severe taxation of their powers they were to make the most of their opportunities for study and labor.

"While these youth were working out their own salvation, God was working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. Here are revealed the conditions of success. To make God's grace our own, we must act our part. The Lord does not propose to perform for us either the willing or the doing. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. Our souls are to be aroused to co-operate. The Holy Spirit works in us, that we may work out our own salvation. This is the practical lesson the Holy Spirit is striving to teach us. 'It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.'" Messages to Young People, p. 147.

Notice, what was said: "They did not feel that the blessing of the Lord was a substitute for the taxing effort required of them. . . for they discerned that through the grace of God their destiny depended upon their own will and action".

Daniel and his three friends did not believe that God magically changes them with no effort on their part. Instead they understood that struggle was involved. Read the story in the Bible, look at all the nuances of the story and see if this is not true. They did their level best to serve God. At the same time they also prayed to God for help that would allow them to survive.

This working to serve God is something we have not talked about yet. We already know that the main struggle is coming to Christ. Once we receive help it is often thought that all struggle is done. After all doesn't Christ give us a new character?

My own understanding is this: God does not make us do anything. He does not enable us to be good by forcing us to be good. Instead He changes our natures so we are then able to follow Him. At this point we now have the ability to do what God would have us do. However, He does not make this ability work by an automatic process. Instead we must now choose to exercise our freedom of will, that God gave us, by obeying Him and doing His will.

It is God who gives us the will power, and the drive to obey God's will. God changes our motives and desires, He changes our will and increases our faith so that our efforts will be based on the character that He has given us. He essentially gives us the ability to make our own choice and then to act on it. It is through effort, that has been strengthened by God, and through God's continual help and grace that allows us to be victorious.

It's true that God changes our wishes and desires; however, the fact that we want to do something or that we have the ability to do something does not always make it easy to do.

Many examples come to mind that illustrate this. One problem we all seem to have is staying close to God. If we want to be close to God, then we must concentrate our efforts in providing time to be with God in a busy schedule where there is no time.

Another example can be seen in Daniel and his friends. They found themselves in a foreign country where their God was laughed at. In fact, as a special insult to them and their God, they made them all sterile eunuchs to serve the king of their conquerors. Look at the prophecy of Isaiah: "And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." Isaiah 39:7. I can even imagine the laughing and scoffing as they mutilated their bodies, probably in plain public view for all to see. In addition to the humiliation of the young boys, this act was designed to humiliate the Jews who were forced to watch the whole process.

Think of the possible anger that the boys could have harbored against their captors. Many probably did. Another possibility is that they could have given God up entirely. It could have seemed that God had failed them. Or maybe it was because of the fact that their gods were stronger than the real God. This was the whole point of their experience. Everything was designed to change the boys into following the ways of the new country.

This story is amazing but true; they chose instead to be loyal to God, and they chose to be His ambassadors in all that they did. In choosing to be true to God they made themselves different from everyone else in Babylon. This made everything they did have grave consequences. The Babylonians would see for themselves if the Jewish God would protect them or not.

In addition, Daniel and his friends were in school learning new languages and the knowledge of the day. They were to be taught the philosophies of the Babylonian gods as well. This caused them to be in direct opposition with all the others who chose to be Babylonians in heart.

Daniel and his friends wanted to keep their affections to the true God and they did this by devoting time to the God of Heaven every day. They chose to pray three times a day in heart-felt communication with God. In this decision was risk. They were not only daring to be different from all the other subjects of that realm, but they were denying themselves the riches of the Kings table; Also, they were denying themselves precious study time that their new responsibilities required of them. They instead chose to devote that time to God. How would their studies be affected? How would they compare with the other captured slaves?

Because they were in this position, everything they did was very important. People were watching. I can imagine that the pressures to give in were great. It was not always easy to use their time wisely in study, and to choose to eat the right food.

But they chose to follow God. They prayed for His intervention as they did the best they could in their circumstances. As a result of their efforts, God blessed them as He has blessed others such as Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph.

Let's put this all together and ask: what really happens when we ask for help? How does He change the situation we find ourselves in?

God changes the severity of the struggle we find ourselves in by fighting Satan Himself. As a result, we no longer face the full brunt of Satan's attacks. Instead we now find that God has given us a new character. In addition, we find the strength of Christ a very real source of strength in our lives. As a result, we now find we can exercise our freedom of choice without the hindrance of Satan. We now find that God has enabled us to follow Him; But, we must exercise that choice and physically follow Him. Our actions are still not automatic.

We can also see that God can work things out in our favor. This can be seen in the lives of many people described in the Bible. However, we are not promised that things will always go our way. Remember there have been many Christian martyrs throughout the history of the earth since Christ and we can expect more to follow.

Also we can look at the story of Daniel's three friends in the fiery furnace. They had no promise that God would help them. In reality, they were willing to lay down their lives in order to give glory to God.

In these examples, effort is not done away with; however, the effort is much less severe than the battle we originally faced when we first struggled to come to Christ. There is a peace that helps the Christian follow his Master.

Partaking of His Nature

We can see that even Christ struggled in the garden and suffered on the cross. However, if we read carefully, we can see that the struggle Jesus had in the garden was much more severe than His experience on the cross. On the cross, Jesus was calm, assured in God and was a help to those around Him. In the garden we find Jesus almost faltering not wanting to go through the experience. The real battle seems to be in the garden where He struggled with His Father. It was in the garden that the whole balance of the world and the universe was hanging. Jesus won the victory by deciding to follow the will of His Father no matter what the consequence, even the cross.

Do we expect to be stronger than He was on earth? With this gift which enables us to be as He was on earth, do we expect to be victorious without a battle? Jesus struggled but He won every battle.

With the gift of grace that He gives us, we can also have the same experience as He did on this earth. Compare the two following statements that Mrs. White wrote concerning Christ and us.

"Be careful, exceedingly careful as to how you dwell upon the human nature of Christ. Do not set Him before the people as a man with the propensities of sin. He is the second Adam. The first Adam was created a pure, sinless being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. He could fall, and he did fall through transgressing. Because of sin his posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience. But Jesus Christ was the only begotten Son of God. He took upon Himself human nature, and was tempted in all points as human nature is tempted. He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity. He was assailed with temptations in the wilderness, as Adam was assailed with temptations in Eden." Letter 8, 1895. SDA Bible Commentary, 5 p. 1128.

Here is the second statement. This time Mrs. White speaks about our new ability in Christ: "We must learn of Christ. We must know what He is to those He has ransomed. We must realize that through belief in Him it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, and so escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Then we are cleansed from all sin, all defects of character. We need not retain one sinful propensity....

"As we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good. Ever learning of the divine Teacher, daily partaking of His nature, we cooperate with God in overcoming Satan's temptations. God works, and man works, that man may be one with Christ as Christ is one with God. Then we sit together with Christ in heavenly places. The mind rests with peace and assurance in Jesus." SDA Bible Commentary 7, p. 943. Review and Herald, April 24, 1900.

Notice what was said about us: "Through belief in Him it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature." We need not retain one propensity to sin when we cooperate with God in overcoming Satan's temptations. This is what the one hundred and forty four thousand will experience in the last days. Yes, God's people will be given the full measure of His grace, thus they will reflect their Maker by fully obeying Him. They will be fully acting out their faith and love in Him.

Jesus Is Our Strength in Battle,
Our Rock of Salvation, and Our Friend

We must not look at our miserable lives. We all have a poor discouraging record of past failures. But that doesn't matter when Jesus takes the helm. We must not listen to Satan or his evil angels when they try to discourage us with our past. Satan is constantly trying to deceive the followers of Christ with his deceptions. He reminds us of our worst sins, sins that we might not be rid of yet. We must remember that Jesus is still with us to change us, but only if we listen to Him rather than to Satan.

But remember Satan is a wily foe. He speaks to us as if he were us. He makes it seem we have much weaker faith than we actually have. He says: "It is impossible to overcome. I am hopeless, God will not listen to me. I am beyond the reach of even God. I am the scum of the earth."

Our case is hopeless only when we listen to these lies. They become self-fulfilling when we listen to such things. Instead we need to go to the Life Giver. We need to go before the Lord on our knees and talk to Him confessing our sins.

When we do this, we need to realize that we are talking to the Creator of the whole universe. Our Creator gives us extremely powerful backing in this war; thus, we will not only have protection from the powers of the enemy, but we will be given the power to become more like Him. Listen to how Mrs. White describes the nature of our help. "Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness and relies wholly on the merits of the Saviour. God would send every angel in heaven to the aid of such a one, rather than allow him to be overcome." Testimonies, Vol. 7, p. 17.

As we talk to Him, we can be assured that Jesus Himself knows our exact problems and worries. He is acquainted with the intensity of our feelings and He is very anxious that we come to Him with these problems so He can save us. Jesus has such a passion and love for us that He has literally died for us. Let no voice or person tell you that Jesus does not love you. It is a lie! He is constantly working in our lives that we might come to Him and be healed of our problems and sin. In Revelation Christ pleads with us: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20.

So come and speak intimately to Him. "Lord Jesus, you understand the craving of my flesh. You know the vanity of my heart and my selfishness. You know I love to do these things but I don't want to keep on doing them. Forgive me of these things and take them away from me."

Spell out your sins before the Lord, and be specific, more specific than I can be here. Remember the promise given to us: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Matthew 7:8-11.

Ask and plead for the good things of God. If we do this He will not be able to keep it from us! He loves us so much that I think we will literally break His heart. The feelings He must have for us are beyond our understanding. When we come to Him in this way we will feel the peace that comes from knowing God. Because of His extreme love for us, He will draw closer to us than we have ever experienced before, even closer than we have experienced with those around us.

Listen to the praise of one who has experienced this himself! "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." Psalm 32:1-2; 34:4-8.

This is the reality of Christ. This is the reality of our victory through Jesus Christ our Lord. He loves us beyond description. He loves us beyond feeling. The problem is that we very seldom ask anything of Christ, hence we do not receive the blessing that He desires to give to us. Please, let all of us decide to have Jesus to be the Lord of our lives in all things. We must decide to have Him as our constant companion. We never need to be alone with Him by our side.

When we are in trouble, we need to learn to be automatic in our asking for help. We can never expect the same kind of help that we would get with prayer, if we don't pray. Read Mrs. White's comment on this: "It is high time that we put on the whole armor of God, and work earnestly to keep Satan from gaining any further advantage. Angels of God, that excel in strength, are waiting for us to call them to our aid, that our faith may not be eclipsed by the fierceness of the Conflict." 1 Selective Messages, pp. 195-196.

The issue of the Great Controversy is of extreme importance on this point. The whole universe knows that God will be perfectly fair and loving at the same time. In the end He will show that He is these things and more, beyond the wildest imagination of the whole universe.

In addition, we can start discovering the same thing through our experience with Him now. When we develop the habit of going to Him at all times, He will truly become the Lord of our lives. He will be our delight and constant companion. There is a real joy in having God with us. As a result of this joy, we will never be the same again. To be without Him would be unthinkable.

With this experience of having God with us, we can only begin to fathom Christ's anguish of separation when His Father separated Himself from Jesus on the cross. We just have no idea of the love that our Maker has for us!

Mike's Origins Resources: A PhD Creationist's view of science, origins, and the future hope of the human race; by looking at Creation Science, Biblical Evidence, and Prophecy Molecular History Research Center

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Officially posted January 1, 1998
last revised February 24, 2021