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If God won the War

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If God won the War, Why isn't It Over?

A Problem with Many Sides

The activity of God since Lucifer's rebellion in heaven has had but one goal: to eradicate sin from the universe. And all of the activitiey of God's sanctuary -- illustrated by the eartly and carried out in the heavenly -- has been in service of that same goal.

But sin is a problem with many sides. To see the sin problem as too simple is to expect too simple a solution. Our study of the final judgment will only frustrate us unless we see it in the context of all that God is doing to eradicate sin. And in order to do that, we must have a clear picture of the nature of the sin problem.

At its very core, sin is a problem of relationships -- broken relationships between God and His people. but in only one way can Satan either cause or maintain a broken relationship between free, thoughtful creatures and their Creator. And that is to deceive them about the character of their wonderful God. The fundamental activity of Satan is to lie, to delude, to mislead minds. And his primary focus of attack in on the frontal lobes of the brain.

Jesus labeled him a liar by nature -- indeed, the very father of all lies. His power over the nations has been through deceit. Satan drew away more than a third of the angels of heaven, misleading them into choosing his tyranny rather than God's fairness. Using the very same method -- implying untruths about God, that he might tear down their faith in Him -- Satan enticed our first parents into rebellion. Seven times in the book of Revelation, Satan's last-day activity on this earh is identified as deception.

To know God is to love Him and trust Him. Satan therefore fears nothing more than that people might come to a knowledge of the truth. Not "truth" in the abstract, but truth about a Person. Sin, therefore, has both its origins and its continued power in deception about God.

To help us keep track of these various parts of the sin problem, let us consider the first element of a diagram which we will continue to develop in this chapter:

The Sin Problem

Satan's
deceptions
about God*

When deception reaches its target -- the minds of God's free creatures, and they choose to believe it -- the result is a shattered relationship. Trust in God gives way to skepticism, loyalty to rebellion, and intelligent submission to defiant independence. That dignified, mutual relationship between God and His people is known as "faith," and Satan's deceptions fracture faith. No longer seeing God as One whom they can trust with the lordship of their lives, His prodigals strike out to set up separate sovereignty over their oen lives. Their resulting stupid and self-destructive behaviors are not the real sin problem. They are but the result. The real sin problem, the very heart of the matter, is the broken faith relationship.

The Sin Problem
Satan's Deceptions
About God*
---->
Broken Faith Relationship

More than anything else, it is the broken faith relationship with His creatures which has greived the heart of our God. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would convince the world of this great sin, "because men do not believe me." Paul asserts that what ever a person does, even good deeds, apart from a faith relationship with Jesus Christ, is sin, "for everything that does not come from faith is sin."

The broken faith relationship causes three distinct -- through, of course, related -- results. We will look at them separately, since they each call forth a different part of God's healing work.

God Told Adam and Eve that maintaining the vital faith relationshp with Him was so essential that sould they ever break it (as symbolized by eathing from the forbidden tree), the result would be death. Notice that God did not threated to kill them, as in revenge. Rather he shared with them a profound and accurate truth about the results of separation from the Lifegiver. Notice, too, that the death which is the inherent consequence of alienation from Life is a death of eternal separation from God. The Bible terms it "the second death."

But when Adam and Eve did choose another master, God immediately interposed, holding off what would have otherwise resulted in their immediate destruction. God has never wanted "anyone to perish"; instead He desires "everyone to come to repentance," And bringing one to repentance takes time -- time to replace error with truth and distrust with confidence.

Yet even though God had purchased for them time to repent, still they knew that they deserved to die. This rightful sentence of death, properly hanging over the heads of all humanity, is passed because of our guilt.

The Sin Problem
Satan's Deceptions About God
---->
Broken Faith Relationship
---->
Guilt:
Deserving the Second Death*

Guilt is not just a feeling of remorse -- though such feelings are involved. Guilt is an accurate, legal status. It does not call forth God's anger or His personal rejection of us as sinners. Indeed, the fact that we are alive (even though guilty) rather than eternally dead is proof of God's loving compassion for sinners. But not even God can change the facts, the reality, of the situation: separation from Life will result in death. To be guilty is to be deserving of death.

But a broken relationship with God changes more than my legal status. It changes me! Perhaps far more than I may recognize, estrangement from God directly affects how I view myself and thus how I view others. Adam and Eve immediately became defensive of themselves and accusing towards others. Alienation from God devastates my self-worth, making me utterly self-centered. All of my values become grasping, distrustful, exploitive. I become totally unfit to live in heaven's society. Were Christ, by some miracle of grace (and contrary to His own wisdom) to transport me to the heavenly realms, I would be totally out of place there. Being still duped by Satans's deceptions and thus a rebel at heart, I would surely start the sin problem all over again in heaven.

So another aspect of the sin problem must be addressed.

The Sin Problem Selfish Character and Values
Satan's Deceptions About God
---->
Broken Faith Relationship
---->
Guilt:
Deserving the Second Death*

The third consequence of a broken faith relationship is the damage which sin does to this organism in which I live. Even though it is sometimes difficult to draw clean lines between this body in which I live and the things I do while in this body, there is value in speaking of them as distinct aspects of the sin problem. (One of the times we see the value in speaking of them in this way is when we consider the humanity of Jesus. He was born in a body just like ours, yet that body presented no ultimate deterrent to His living a life of perfect submission to the will of His Father.)

Paul is refering to this sin-damaged organism when he discusses sinful flesh. because Satan has had such great success in perverting the normal drives of the body and in taking advantage of hunger, weariness, and pain, the body can indeed be viewed as a "source" of sin. More precisely, it is a "door of access" through which Satan most often gains control over the mind. But God's plan must reckon with it.

The Sin Problem Selfish Character and Values
Satan's Deceptions About God
---->
Broken Faith Relationship
---->
Guilt:
Deserving the Second Death*

Sinful Flesh:
The Sin-damaged Body*

Keep in mind not only the different parts of the sin problem as illustrated here, but also their sequence. For we would expect that God's solution must match the problem in every particular.

Next Chapter

If God won the War, Why isn't It Over?

God's Multiple Remedies

During the brief years of His mission, Jesus was moved by one overriding desire: to reveal to a darkened world the light of truth about His Father. With godly exasperation, He chided His disciples for failing to see that His life was a revelation of the Father. More than 227 times in John's Gospel alone, Jesus makes specific references to the Father. Indeed, the key to eternal life itself is in knowing the Father as revealed in the life of Jesus.

"Righteous Father," Jesus cries out, "the world does not know you." He can think of no greater tragedy than that the One who most deserves to be known and loved has been monstrously maligned by the enemy. And so would we not expect that Jesus would want to strike right at the heart of the sin problem?

Paul recognized that the best news our sin-blinded minds could comprehend was "the light of the gospel [good news] of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." He rejoices that God has made "his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ."

God's Remedies Selfish Character
and Values*
Truth about God in Jesus' Life and Death
Satan's
Deceptions About God
---->
Broken Faith
Relationship*
---->
Guilt:
Deserving the
Second Death*

Sinful Flesh:
The Sin-damaged
Body*

It is an unbroken theme, from Genesis to Revelation, repeated hundreds of times: The nowledge of God shatters Satan's deceptive power and is the foundation for all of God's redemptive work for mankind. Indeed, the truth about our God is what wins our hearts, reconciling us to Him. In Christ "God was reconciling the world to himself." God takes the initiative, God sends truth in His Son, who alone can fully reveal God. And the glad, free response of the now-enlightened heart is known as faith.

God's Remedies Selfish Character
and Values*
Truth about God in Jesus' Life and Death
Satan's Deceptions About God
---->
Faith:
Reconciled to God in Love, Trust, and Obedience*
Broken Faith Relationship
---->
Guilt:
Deserving the
Second Death*

Sinful Flesh:
The Sin-damaged
Body*

Faith is a personal friendship with God, characterized by love and trust. Faith becomes more mature as one comes to know God more fully. Yet one of the first truths God wishes us to know is how He views that death sentence hanging over our heads. In His own Son, He has borne that sentence in our place that we might fearlessly have the right of free access to His presence. Complete pardon, justification, forgiveness, acquittal -- call it what wever we will -- expresses one overpowering truth: past sins are no barrier to present fellowship with our Lord. That is His settled attitude toward all who have faith in Him. Not because any of us have deserved it by our performance but because He loves us. The only requirement: faith. Faith in a Person. Not even faith in the cross, but faith in the Jesus who died on the cross and thus in the Father who gave Him for us.

God's Remedies Selfish Character
and Values*
Truth about God in Jesus' Life and Death
Satan's Deceptions About God
---->
Faith:
Reconciled to God in Love, Trust, and Obedience*
Broken Faith Relationship
---->
Justification:
Pardon; Viewed as Righteous, Accepted*
Guilt:
Deserving the
Second Death

Sinful Flesh:
The Sin-damaged Body*

Faith not only changes our legal status from "guilty" to "innocent," it also gives God dramatic new access to change radically our inner selves. Just as alienation from God devastated our self-worth, so now the assurance of present acceptance by God rebuilds it. The ego-centered coping mechanisms which Satan had used to control us virtually at will are now stripped of there power. Christ's perfect love for us has cast out all fear of rejection by other. Our deep inner need for love being daily met by our loving Saviour, we are able to turn outward and become truly loving, unselfish persons. This growth in Christlikeness of character (which we often call sanctification) is not growth toward God's acceptance; it is growth within that acceptance. God does not love us because we are becoming more like Him; we are becoming more like Him because we already know He loves us! God's love is a changing power.

God's Remedies A New Heart: That Loves Righteousness and Hates Sin
Selfish Character and Values
Truth about God in Jesus' Life and Death
Satan's Deceptions About God
---->
Faith:
Reconciled to God in Love, Trust, and Obedience*
Broken Faith Relationship
---->
Justification:
Pardon; Viewed as Righteous, Accepted*
Guilt: Deserving the Second Death

Sinful Flesh:
The Sin-damaged Body*

Now let's examine God's remedy for the problem of our sinful flesh. True, we will live in this sin-damaged body until death or until the moment of the second coming of Christ, when we shall all be changed and given immortal bodies. But while living in these weakened bodies, we still need not be mastered by them. As was the case with Jesus, we may joing Paul in saying. "The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith." The enlightening, strenthening power of the Holy Spirit has set us free from the power of sinful flesh.

God's Remedies A New Heart: That Loves Righteousness and Hates Sin
Selfish Character and Values
Truth about God in Jesus' Life and Death
Satan's Deceptions About God
---->
Faith:
Reconciled to God in Love, Trust, and Obedience*
Broken Faith Relationship
---->
Justification:
Pardon; Viewed as Righteous, Accepted*
Guilt:
Deserving the
Second Death

Controlled by the New Spirit-led Mind
Sinful Flesh: The Sin-damaged Body

In considering the preceeding diagram, it might be worth noting that the word "sin' applies most appropriately to the second circle -- the broken faith relationship. If that problem is being solved and one is walking in faith, would it not seem strange to point to the existence of the sinful flesh and say that because it remains until the second coming one will therefore be a sinner until translation? Is "sin" a function of the mind and loyalties, or of weakened blood vessels and tired muscles? The problem of relationship can be fully solved in this life, even though the problem of sin-damaged flesh remains. And that is part of what Jesus came to demonstrate to us.

Next Chapter

The Cross:
Turning Point, Not End*

So far we have discussed sin and salvation in the abstract, using diagrams and words. Now let's look at the actions of God as He moves into the realm of humanity and time to win us back.

But first some distinctions. To ignore these is to lose the flow of the rest of this book, so note them carefully.

  1. There is a difference between the winning the battle between Jesus and Satan and the the ending of the battle. Age-old arguments between a "complete atonement" and an "incomplete atonement" have missed this distinction -- with those who hold our far a complete atonement trying to say that Jesus won the victory on the cross, and those who stress and incomplete atonement trying to explain why the rebellion goes on more that 1900 years later. Thus we suggest the phrase "atonement in progress to better describe what God has been doing since the cross."
  2. There is a similar difference between the necessary response for my personal salvation and the distinct privileges of cooperating with God in ending the battle -- the great controversy. In the Bible, human performance is not set forth as the basis for salvation, but is urged as a necessary condition for helping God out. Perhaps much of our confusion on the matter of Christ-like behavior stems from the fact that we seem most interested only in our own salvation.
  3. Again, we must maintain a sharp distinction, in discussing the sin problem, as to whether we are discussing God's attitudes about man or discussing man's attitudes about God. Too often we assume that the sin problem is wrapped up in God's opinion of man. ("Does He regard me as guilty, or innocent?" "does He love me?"). It was man -- Adam and Eve, -- chaning his opinion of God, who broght sin into the world. And it is our opinions which must be changed before sin can be eradicated from the planet.

And now our attention focuses on the cross. How could we improve on Paul's summary of praise to this, the grand turning point in the history of the universe? "God forbid that I sould boast about anyghing or anybody except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which means that the world is a dead thing to me and I am a dead man to the world."

Since virtually every Christian knows what happened on the cross of Calvary, let us concentrate on the meanings of the cross in the overall plan of atonement. Two qustions: What was settled at the cross? And, What remained yet to be settled after the cross?

What was Settled at the Cross?

  1. The consequences of sin were at last fully revealed. God had truthfully warned Adam and Eve that sin would cause a terrible death, bringing total separation from God, Satan immediately refuted the warning, saying that it would not. Who was telling the truth -- God or Satan? Strictly on the basis of available evidence, it might have seemed that Satan had the edge on truth. After all, for some 4000 years, God has "passed over" those sins, not allowing that final death to take place. Of course, had anyone suffered that deserved death, he would not have been around to benefit from the demonstration of God's truthfulness. So in His mercy, God held back the full and final consequences of sin. But then came that awful moment when all those consequences, for all of humanity, realized their full expression -- in one Man! And He cried out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" In that moment "mercy and truth ... met together." It was mercy in that Jesus died rather than us. It was truth in that Jesus died as God had said sinners would. Thus, one purpose of the cross "was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous." That is, you can count of God always to tell the truth, even if the truth is costly. (What is more, He is even willing to bear the cost!)
  2. On the cross, the nature and extent of God's totally self-giving love was fully revealed. the impact of that extreme sacrifice for undeserving rebels was electrifying through the whole universe. Angels, perceiving its meaning more quickly than men, were entralled. It shattered the last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly hosts. Having seen the malicious hatred of Satan toward their loving Commander in stark contrast with Jesus' compassionate forgiveness toward His murderers. the heavenly hosts would never again be duped by Satan's lies about God. And the record of those events was preserved for us humans to ponder, that -- with the Spirit's aid -- we might come to the same conclusions.
  3. Having died in our place, Jesus won for us all the right to stand free from all guilt when we are joined to Him by the bond of faith. This is the great truth of justification by faith: that God is eager to view us all as though we had never sinned. The sentence of death which we have borne is not only repreived, it is fully cancelled. Nor is this because we have done anything which would deserve a different treatment. It is entirely an expression of God's gracious love to the prodigals who have come home. And it is theirs as long as they stay home!
    Forgiveness is a concrete expression of God's attitude toward all sinners. He offers it freely to all sinners who will accept it by trusting Him. As repentant, loyal members of God's family, we can be sure we are forgiven, because we can be sure of the Forgiver. Forgiveness is more a statement about God than about me. The good news is not just that I am forgiven, but that God is the Forgiver -- that it is an inherent part of His nature to treat me that way! That is the basis for my assurance. It is grounded in who God is, rather than in anything that I am or ever can do.
    In the strictest sense, forgiveness deals with one's legal right to return to fellowship with God. But at the pratical level, that gracious expression by God does more than just open the door for me to return to God; it tugs me throug that door! What thoughtful person could resist those open, extended, pierced hands?
  4. The cross of Christ guaranteed the victory of Christ in the great controversy. No longer was the ultimate outcome in question. From that moment, Satan was a defeated foe, and Jesus was Victor. Though it sounded to the onlookers like a moan of defeat, Jesus' cry "it is finished" was the victor's shout. The Son of man had met the prince of this earth on his own ground and came away undefeated. throughout eternity, as the redeemed join the myriads of heaven in singing, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain," they will know that He was willing to even die for His creation.

That Jesus is victor in the great controversy is assured. Only two questions remain: Who shall share the victory with Him? When shall He claim that victory?

What Remains to Be Settled After the Cross?

The Cross was the turning point in the great controversy. But it was not the end. The very fact that Jesus did not destroy Satan on resurrection morning and take home His band of loyal followers is evidence that some aspects of the atonement are still in progress. To identify some of these aspects is not to depreciate the cross in any way. Rather, it is to acknowledge that the cross was intended for the winning of the controversy, but not, by itself, for the ending of the controversy.

Notice these additional factors:

  1. The world's inhabitants did not yet fully know or understand the saving revelation of God in Jesus. The truth about God is of value only when it gets into th4e inds of the people whom God wants to win back. This message He has entrusted into the hands of His people, His continued body on earth. And He has asked that we share it with the whole world, for He loves the whole world. God intends that no person should ever make a decision about Him without a clear picture of who is being accepted or rejected. "You will know the truth," Jesus promised, "and the truth will make you free."
  2. The world needs to witness sin's ultimately self-destructive nature. Indeed, whtn God leaves sinners to reap the final consequences of their rebellious choices, this seems so out of character with His patient love that it is called His strange deed, His alien work. Had God destroyed Satan and his followers when they first rebelled, even the angels of heaven would have viewed it as an act of arbitrary power and would have served God from fear. Paul describes how that in contrast to the clear portrayal of the truth about God, there will also be a fuller manifestation of Satan's character and work in the final days before Jesus returns. Again, the purpose of this fuller revelation is not so that God can view sinners any differently, but so that mankind can understand why God views them as He does. They need to see why God views them as unfit for heaven's fellowship.
  3. The universe needs to know whether God's methods of restoration really work. They have seen that He can indeed forgive sinners. But forgiveness, relatively speaking, seems the easier part. It has to do with God's attitude toward man; and God is the stable, clear-thinking One. But what about man's attitude toward God? That has always been the trouble spot. His thinking always seems so prone to poor reasoning -- so vulnerable to bad information. Yet God has proposed to bring these wayward minds back into informed, settled, unchanging loyalty to Himself, solely through a living revelation of Himself. No "spiritual magic" to be worked on our brains. No loyalty-by-restructured-neurons approaches. Just truth, freedom, time -- and love.
    But will it work? Satan can no longer validly argue that repentant sinners do not have the right to return to fellowship with God. He knows the meaning of the cross. But now he charges that rebels cannot be made ready to remain in heaven's fellowship.
    And that's a fair quston! Even as we rejoice in the present assurance of God's forgiveness, we know enough about ourselves to wonder if we caould be trusted with the perfect, endless freedoms of that pure place without "messing it up" all over again. Many have set that readiness as their goal, yet have died enroute, knowing precious little about the principles of the kingdom and its resulting life-style. But they have known heaven's Lord, and thus He has reserved the right to complete their readiness process "in residence."
    But God is proposing that He is indeed able fully to prepare a people to relocate directly into the kingdom without seeing death. The issue is not that such persons are required to attain some higher degree of righteousness to deserve salvation! It is not a matter of what they can do for God, but of what God can do for them -- if they are willing to accept the privilege. For a number of reasons (to be discussed later), heaven longs for such people. For such a people Paul pleads: "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfectly in the fear of God."
  4. All living, thinking persons must have an informed basis for making a final, total decision for or against God. The heavently angel told John that a time would come when people would no longer be changing sides in the great controversy -- that even though they are alive, they would not be changing their minds. Time for choosing (probationary time, we call it) would be no more. Not because God has arbitrarily shut it down, but because it would no longer be needed. Everyone will have made a final, unchageable choice for the lordship of Satan (described as receiving the "mark of the beast" ) or they will have made an unchanging decision for the gracious lordship of Jesus (referred to as the "seal of God" ). No more middle ground. No more undecided persons, pleading "Well, I really don't know which way to go." The issues will be starkly clear: Christ and His character versus Satan and and his character.

And this is the whole point: It would be contrary to every aspect of the way God woks for Him to bring the world to the point of this finaly choice without giving them adequate information upon which to base their choices. Thus Jesus said the gospel "will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come." Truth will be a final, confronting evidence, bringing the whole world to the point of decision.

Were God to say today to the world, "Choose you this day whom you will serve," most of the world would have to say, "Who is the Lord? What is He like?" Forced to make decisions about Jesus, many would understandably choose against Him, because the picture they have of Him is Satan's picture. and God won't force such a choice.

And so we wait. God took the time to win the great controversy in such an impeccably fair way that none could challenge it throughout eternity. We can trust Him to end it in the same way. Even if it takes more time. God's intense desire to bring the universe to oneness again is exceeded only by His desire to do it in such a way that it can never be questioned throughout eternity. For this reason, the work of at-one-ment is still in progress.

Next Chapter

Who Needs
an End-Time Judgment?*

Most of the negative comments one hears about the concept of an ent-time judgment are reactions against what can only be viewed as a caricature of the judgment. This distorted, confused scenario of the judgment suggests some very strange ideas about God and how He works, and as such it deserves to be questioned by thoughtful people. In its various forms, this view of the judgment goes something like this:

God simply cannot make up His mind about whom to save in the judgment. So He must convene a court in order to reexamine the evidence before casting a decision. The books of recrd, listing the good and bad works of each person, are opened and examined. As the lists of sins are reviewed, the Father's face darkens, and the verdict looks doubtful for the individual in question. Bu then Jesus steps froward, and in the true adversary fashion typical of earhly courts, pleads the gracious merits of His blood over against the stern justice of the Father. Perhaps if the believer has registered enough good works on his record, Jesus can win his case.

Ths caricature continues by suggesting that, as each case is settled in the courts of heaven and marked as "accepted" or "rejected," that person's probation is closed. The divine Magistrates then go on to the next -- apparently in chronological order. When the entire list of repentant believers has thus been examined, then judgment is over and the second coming is next on the agenda. Thus, it is the heavy case load in the heavenly courts or the long processing time which (according to this view) accounts for the delay in the second coming of Jesus. "What's the matter?" one young boy asked in all seriousness, "Is God short of secretarial help?"

Wouldn't we agree that such views of God and the final judgment deserve to be challenged? But what, then, is the more accurate view? The Bible does indeed speak of a final judgment. What is being decided? Let's look at several aspects of the heavenly court scene.

Who Are the Key Personalities?

Daniel 7 names most of the key personalities involved in the judgment. (1) In the "jury bos" we see a vast array of holy angels, intensely interested in the decisions about their future neighbors. On the judge's bench is, of course, the Father, described with all the dignity befitting His office. Then Jesus, clothed, we notice, in His humanity, is brought into fill the role of defense attorney.

We must note right at the start that in all decisions relating to the redeemed, Jesus and His Father are not adversaries. To the contrary, they stand totally united, on the side of the redeemed! (2) In fact, Jesus even went so far as to say that He would not pray to the Father on behalf of His deciples, (3) lest they missunderstand and think that the Father needed to be coaxed into granting their requests. There is no disunion in the Godhead -- least of all on this matter!

Who, then, holds the position of prosecuting attorney -- the adversary against God and His plan to redeem mankind? Who else, but the adversary himself, (4) the accuser of the brethern, (5) the one who has always stood by to challenge God's elect and to argue with God about His choice of redeemed ones? (6) Satan is the antagonist in the courtroom of heaven.

Annoying as Satan's continual objections are (because of his prejudiced motives against the Judge), God still treats his chares with respect. It has never been God';s method to "pull randk" on the enemy -- to order him into silence by His own superior status. Nor does God ever erase the evidence against His people as a means of winning His case. Because, as you recall, the primary issue at stake in the great controversy is not the destiny of individual persons but the character and methods of the Judge Himself! Satan cross-examines each of God's decisions, not so much because he desires one more or less person to join him in the lake of fire, but because he hopes to catch the Judge Himself in an unfair act -- an indefensible verdict. This has always been his goal.

What Are the Issues in the Judgment?

Perhaps no part of Scripture better illustrates the issues in the judgment than does the book of Job. Surprising as it may seem, some of us feel that this book's primary goal in the Bible is not just to bring comfort during times of trial (since Job really didn't get much of that), but rather to help us perceive the cosmic issues in the judgment. Since we are already familiar with the basic narrative, let us note the following insights observed in the book:

  1. The setting for the book is a brisk disagreement between God and Satan regarding one man. The evidence of Job's behavior is open to both and is not seriously questioned. Rather, the inner motives of the heart are disputed.
  2. Satan is, in effect, charging that there is no such thing as genuine faith; that if God is going to get followers, He has to do it by purchasing their loyalties. No one, Satan claims, will serve God for God's sake alone, but rather for the things they can get out of HIm. Genuine, God-centered faith, he insists, is a myth and can be exposed as such under pressure.
  3. As such, the charge is really against God rather than against Job. Satan is simply willing to use Job to prove his point that God's methods of winning loyalty won't work. Satan intends that the outcome of the trial, though initially reflecting badly on Job, will ultimately reflect badly on God Himself. It will expose God as having misplaced His confidence, as having trusted methods that are really untrustworthy. (It is in this sense that the final judgment, through it centers on the cases of indificuals, is actually a judgment of God! The cry of the first angel, "The other of his judgment has come." (7) thus has a double meaning: though He is dealing with individual cases, it is His own case that will ultimately result in His exoneration, by the way in which He deals with those cases! More on this later.)
  4. God is the One who nominated Job's name for judgment. (8) This was HIs statment of confidence that He believed Job would stand from under the intense trial by fire. God put forward Job's name for cross-examination, not because He wanted to make up His mind about Job, but because He had already made up His mind about Job, and He believed that others would concur that His confidence had been rightly placed.
    This is a vial concept for understanding the final judgment. The judgment is not a time for God to decide who are his. The Lord already knows who are His. (9) Rather it is a time for Him to defend the decisions He has already made. It is a time when He can say both to Satan and to the onlooking universe, 'I believe in My people and in the reality of genuine faith. I believe that they have been fully restored to unshakeable loyalty and can be trusted with eternity without need to furhter alter their characters. I am confident that they will stand true even under the most severe test." (10) And to emphasize his confidence, He will stand up and leave the sanctuary from which He has ministered forgiveness for their specific sins. "(11) For He knows that they will not fall back into distrust and rebellion again.
  5. Jobe remained loyal to God and was in the end commended by God because of one fact: he trusted God. There was no evidence that Job ever understood the reason for the calamities that were happening to him. His four friends urged him at length to accept an interpretation that that would have portrayed God as working on the reward-for-goodness, punishment-for-badness philosophy. He rejected this interpretation, because he knew God better than that! And through he had no surer interpretation to offer in return, he trusted God anyway. Such will be the experience of those whom God will put forward as evidence of His restoring power in the final judgment. (12)

What is the Evidence Used in the Judgment?

The Bible speaks frequently of Books of record in heaven which well be used in the judgment. (13) And it is certain that a person's actions, deeds, or works are part of that record and will be considered in judgment. (14) Some have found this a puzzleing matter in view of two other questions: Why does God need records -- does He not have a perfect memory? And what is the point in keeping track of works -- doesn't the Bible say that we are saved apart from our works?

The answer to the first question might be suggested in the words of the Lord to Samuel as he was trying to evaluate which of Jesse's sons would make the best King: "The Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (15) God remembers perfectly and evaluates the evidence accurately. But remember, the judgment isn't really for God's sake. It is for the sake of all those lesser beings in the Universe who cannot rad the hear and who must therefore be convinced on the basis of evidence that makes sense to them: the outward appearances of deeds and acts.

Regarding salvation apart from works: to be more precise, the Bible says God "saved us ... not in virture of our works." (16) That is, man's works never have been and never will be the meritorius basis for salvation. Gods desired response from us is not that we sork to earn His favor, but that we respond in loving trust to favor already given. Now, in God's mind, genuine faith and the works which grow from faith are one and the same. He can judge one or the other and come up with the same answer. But the apostle James voiced a familiar complaint -- that many people were simply giving lipservice to faith. (17) He urged the right to see real live works as an evidence of faith -- a request which God sees as still falid in the judgment. Theus, for everyone else's sake, He keeps track of works. He has nothing to hide. He has no intent to nominate for judgment anyone whose faith cannot be vindicated by his works.

Once again, it is man's opinion of God, not God's opinion of man, which needs to be changed before the great controversy can end. Thus the purpose of the judgment is not for God to form an opinion of man, but for man to see God dealing so fairly, so livingly in the settling of the final issues that man will form an unchangingly loyal opinion of God!

Next Chapter

The Role of a Pure People
in the Judgment*

"Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God! ... Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace." (1)

And so Peter echoes a familiar theme: a pure and holy people are somehow related to these final events. And since these final eventa are close at hand, spare no effort to be ready for them.

But why? Is God suddenly "elevating HIs standard" of salvation for those unlucky enough to be living in the ast days? Hardly! Look at it this way:

What Does Holiness Mean?

It doesn't mean arriving at some level of goodness beyond which there is no more room for growth. (2) Indeed, since growth into Jesus' image will occupy the redeemed throughout eternity, He wants us ready and eager for that growth even now. Some have described this as "perfect teachableness," or as constant willingness to say Yes to whatever God offers to us. It means being all done with our rebellion, that He might teach us ever more fully HIs ways eternally. Holiness, as one author expresses it, is wholeness for God.

Holiness in Not to Impress God ...

The Christian seeks holiness, not so that God will think better of him; for he knows that ge is already "accepted in the beloved," (3) God's opinion of the Christian is identical to His opinion of His beloved Son, and there is absolutely nothing man can do to improve upon that!

But to Inform the World ...

The Christian seeks holiness of life, not so God will think better of Him, but so that the world will think better of the God they see through him. The Christian detests sin in his life, not because he fears that God will think less of him, but because he fears that his friends will think less of God because of his sins. He knows that some people will actually decide whether or not to glorify the Father based on how he lets his light shine. (4) He joins Paul in admitting (soberly, yet joyously) that "we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us." (5)

John's Gospel, in recording Jesus' prayer for His disciples, contains a compelling line of logic. At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus gratefully reports that He has "accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do." (6) And what was that work? "I have manifested thy name to the men thou gavest me." (7) In fact He even says, "I am glorified in them." (8) But now comes a transition: "Now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world." (9) Since He is leaving, He forwards to them (as HIs corporate body) the continuation of HIs same mission: "As thou didst sned me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." (10)

For this very reason, the Christian consecrates himself to live the truth, just as Jesus consecrated Himself in truth. (11) And for this very reason, Paul prays that the believers might "be filled with all the fulness of God." (12) Because Paul know that "through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be mad known to the principalities and power in heavenly places." (13)

And to demonstrate God's Restoration Powers

Christians sing, "There is power, power, wonder-working power ... in the precious blood of the lamb." And Satan taunts darkly from his corner, "There's no power in the blood! Look at the way they live!"

Who is telling the truth? Could you decide by doing a survey among professed Christian?

Satan taunts Jesus with our sins. The enemy taunts the One we love! The angel promised that Jesus would save us from our sins. (14) But the old snake laughs and says, "If He saves you at all, it will have to be in your sins." And some Christians slink sadly to their corners, sighing, "Oh well, I guess forgiveness is about all I could expect, anyway."

For reasons known best in His heart of infinite love, God has been willing to be embarassed by His people's unwillingness to live the Christ life. He longs for a people who will get their attention off themselves and recognize that they are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light." (15)

The Motives of a Holy People

"For the love of Jesus controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all ... that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him." (16) This is a turn-around verse! But so few Christians turn around. Let me explain.

A life of love is a life moved by unselfishness. Yet sin has made us all desperately self-centered. We are incapable of living unselfishly until our own needs are met first. We cannot love until we know that we are loved. And so, in the death of Christ, God sends an enormous love-message to us. On the cross, He says, "That's how valuable you are to me!"

God intends that the cross-message should heal my self-centeredness -- that it should so thoroughly meet my needs that it sets me free to live no longer for myself but for Him.

But even "Christians" can continue to live for themselves -- for their own blessings, their own secure spot in heaven, their freedom from trials. A key identifying mark of God's final grneration, however, will be that they are so sure of God's opinion of them that they are set free to live entirely for Him. Their consuming desire is that their wonderful God be made known to the world. With paul, they will be able to endure all manner of persecution and trial "so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." (17)

For, you see, only the unselfish motive will lead one to be trule unselfish. Only the one who, for Christ's sake, wishes to be like Jesus will reflect His character to others. Those who wish to turn Christlikeness of character into a selfish grasping for God's approval, will -- by the very selfishness of the motive -- fail to experience the unselfishness they seek. Those who would use Christian growth as a selfish means to earn God's approval will never understand the Unselfish One who has already given His approval.

A Christian who does not "turn around" and live for God's glory will never understand the place of good works in the life of the believer. Every time he hears about victory, overcomeing, perfection of character, sanctification, or any other growth-related term, he will turn it inward and see it as a basis for achieving standing or approval with God. Seeing his inadequacies in this department, he will then doubt God's forgiveness and acceptance. This will only reinforce his selfish insecurities, thus giving rise to even more sinful behavior. Thus he will know only failure. He will then either scrap Christianity altogether or will settle for a "forgiveness only" form of it, since that's all he has been seeking anyway.

In brief, motives are profoundly important for God's last-days people.

Groundless Fears About Holiness

Speaking about a holy people always seems to raise the fears of some people. For example, "Isn't this the heresy of 'sinless perfectionism'?" There's nothing unbiblical about being sinless, so long as we understand it. It doesn't (at least it shouldn't) mean "incapable of sinning." Rather, it describes a people who have turned decidedly from the delusions of Satan, who are all done rebelling, and who find sin to be repulsive because Jesus has given them a new set of values.

The word perfectionism, as often referred to in a scornful sense, implies man's perfection inplace of, or added to, the perfection of Jesus Christ as the basis for acceptance by the Father. such a view deserves to be scorned. And some may actually believe that way. But the holy people described above would not find that to be a problem.

Other worry that to speak of a holy people is to open the door to that old heresy of "holy flesh." (We might observe that if we avoided every Biblical teaching which someone earlier had used as a springboard for error, there wouldn't be much left to talk about!) The "holy flesh" problem grows out of the belief that sin has its primary focus in the flesh and that Jesus can only solve the sin problem by doing something miraculous to the flesh. Once He has done it, then, sin is no longer possible.

But remember our development of the sin problem in Chapter 2, in which we emphasized that sin is a function of the mind and loyalties, not of the physical body. In fact, Paul often stressed that "the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh." (18)

Still other worry that to speak positively of a holy people will produce an arrogant group of self-acclaimed, self-satisfaied snobs. They quote passages such as this in support of their concern: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." (19) And it's a valid concern. But as you think about the holy people described in thei chaper, keep this thought in mind: there is a big difference between a people focused on their own performance -- for their own sakes -- and a people so captivated by the lovely Jesus that they are lost in Him. God has always named His people; they never name themselves. Job would not have suggested himself as ready for the trial, but God named him because he was indeed ready. (So also Isaiah and John the Baptist. (20))

The beauty of holiness is its utter selflessness. Oh, the privilege of being thus transformed by our selfless Lord!

Next Chapter

The Final Judgment
in Symbol and Reality*

The Jewish calendar of temple celebrations was a chronological symbol of the history of the atonement. Every twelve months it retold the full story of God's work to eradicate sin from the universe. The daily sacrifices were intended to revela to the sinner the great provision made for his own personal salvation. Building on that same theme, the annual calendar took in the cosmic scope of the atonement plan.

Each spring, Israel gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This feast looked back to their deliverance from Egypt and forward to the sacrifice of the Messiah as their true passover Lamb. As such, it typified the beginnings of the Christian era. This was reinforced by the offering of the firstfruits several days later -- a promise of the harvest which the gospel would surely produce.

Fifty days later, the Feast of Pentecost marked the time of rejoycing for the abundant harvest. Its New Testament 'fulfillment' in the ourpouring of the Holy Spirit (1) illustrated its anticipation of the final maturing of the harvest in the end of time.

But it is the fall celebrations, coming at the end of the liturgical calendar, which are of most interest to us at this point in the study. They began with the solemn blowing of trumpets, stirring the throughts of the people toward the finality involved in these symbols. The fall series of feasts ended with the Feast of Tabernacles, a joyous festival recalling the first permanent dwelling of God's people in Canaan after many years of wanderings. What better symbol of the permanent heavenly homes to be enjoyed by the redeemed! Pilgrims on earth, but not forever!

Between the blowing of the trumptes and the Feast of Tabernacles came a one-day ceremony recognized as the most solemn of the year -- the Day of Atonement. The entire camp of Israel prepared for this day with unusual searching of heart. (2) They recognized it as dealing with sin in some very final way. Notice these cluse to its meaning:

Its position in the liturgical calendar -- following the warning tones of the trumpets, yet preceding the final rejoicing of being at home at last -- identifies it as a final act in dealing with sin.

The use of two goats, each dealt with in an entirely different way, prefigures a final showdown between the two great protagonists in the cosmic controversy. The Hebrew word for scapegoat, Azazel, was commonly understood to denote an evil one.

In marked contrast to the way virtually every other animal was dealth with in the sanctuary, the scapegoat was not sacrificed. Instead, it was carried away from civilization, never to return. (3) Clearly, the people understood this to be a promise that the time would come when sin would be more than forgiven; it would be removed forever from the universe.

But remember: God has always had but one way to remove sin -- only one method to eradicate sin from the universe. He does not strong-arm Satan out of reach, for power is not the issue. He does not command Satan into silence, for authority is not the issue. Rather He exposes Satan for the fraud that he is and fully reveals the more than adequate basis for trust in Himself, for truth is the issue!

The Day of Atonement is a promise that the time will come when Jesus -- in His role as High Priest -- will step forth from the supreme court of heaven and, in the presence of the entire universe, declare what the evidence has overwhelmingly shown: Satan is the father of all lies, there is not one tiny reason to distrust God, and the vote of the jury is unanimous. Every decision which God has made -- about Satan, the redeemed, even the lost -- has been fair beyond question. This is how sin is removed from the universe.

Throughtout the year, as individual worshpers have brought their sin offerings to the altar, the priest has carried a portion of the blood inot the sanctuary, sprinkling it before the veil. This represents the fact that, though he as accepted the Sacrifice to be made on his behalf and is thus forgiven, some aspect of the sin problem remains to be solved. It doesn't mean (as some have suggested) that the Father is uncertain about accepting the Son';s sacrifice as ade1quate to secure forgiveness. Rather, by accepting that blood into His most holy place, the Father is saying that He will assume accountability to see to it that Satan is ultimately shown to be the cause of that sin.

Repeated by Daniel

This same fina;-judgment motif is repeated in the prophecies of Daniel 7 and 8, which is connected to leviticus 16 by far more than just the word cleansed (Daniel *:14, ), as some have suggested. The similarities between the Daniel and Leveticus accounts are striking:

A.                Both accounts describe the judgment as happening in the presence of a vast assembled throng. In the eartly type, the whole camp of Israel was intensely involved. (4) In Daniel's view of the heavenly antitype, he beheld a virtually numberless throng. (5) Thus the pre-advent judgment is no private affair, taking place in the seclusion of some forbidden chamber.

  1. The setting portrays an ultimate showdown between the two heads of great opposing forces. The two goats of Leviticus -- one honored in sacrifical death, the other banished forever to a desolate place -- clearly typify Christ versus Satan. Daniel sees the little-horn power as a type of Satan, most clearly identified by his accusing attack upon God himself.(6)
  2. The results of the two judment accounts are also identical. Just as Satan and all he stands for is banished symbolically in Azazel,(7) so Daniel foresees that all Statn's kingdom will be taken away from him and awarded to Christ and His kingdom.(8)
  3. All of this happens, not at the time of Christ's first coming, but just prior to the setting up of His eternal kingdome, (9) Thus it is an end-time judgment.(10)

Daniel and Moses are each telling the same story, but from a different persepctive. Daniel sets the final judgment in the flow of secualr history -- the rise and fall of earhly nations and the setting up of an eternal kingdom. Moses, on the other hand, is speaking in the context of God's covenant people, with a special emphasis on their involvement and on the spiritual issues necessary to the setting of the great controversy.

Even though William Miller and the other advent preachers of the 1840s were alerted to the connection between Leveticus 16 and Daniel 7 and 8, because of the word cleansed in Daniel 8:14, (compared to its frequent use in Leviticus, they apparently felt comfortable in making the connection between the two final-judgment accounts because of the larger context.

So when the timing of this grand event became vital to know, they felt free to use the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8 and nail it down in history. And so should we!

Daniel recognized in the little-horn power of Daniel 8:9-14 the same archenemy who had been assaulting Christ and His people in Chapter 7 and whose reign was sure to end at the time of judgment. So when Daniel sees that same power surface again in chapter 8 -- this time destroying great truths of redemption as revelaed in the sanctuary -- he is deeply distressed! Daniel understood the meaning of the sanctuary services. He recognized the saving truths revealed about God and His atonement work, and nothing could trouble him more than to see 'truth cast down to the ground.'(11)

A sympathetic angel stnading nearby cried out on Daniel's behalf, How much longer will all this go on? When will truth -- as revelaed in the sanctuary -- again emerge victorious? And the firm promise came back, "For two thousand three huyndred evenings and mornings; then the Holy Place shall emerge victorious."(12)

This prophecy was fulfilled in 1844. (13) We see this as the time when God began to bring the world to final confrontation with truth so that the great controversy could be ended and Christ Jesus could receive His kingdome. It is not a time when Jesus and the FAther go into hiding inorder to make up their minds about who to save -- and we have been waiting ever since for Them to finish Their deciding! Rather it is a time when the angelic forces are calling the world to "fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come"(14) -- and God has been waiting ever since for a people who will carry that message to the world with such convincing power that the earth will be lightened with its glory.(15)

Only in this context can we speak meaningfully about a 'delay' in Christ's coming. This does not mean that Jesus' timing has been faulty, but rather that the essential conditions have not yet been met. It means that, as a people, we must be less concerned about the nearness of His coming thatn we are bout the world knowing the One who is coming! For He can only have a people who "have loved his appearing"(16) when He has a people who intelligently love, and properly represnt, Him who shall appear.

Next Chapter

A Distinctive Message
About the Judgment*

Since its very beginning, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been enthralled with the theme of final judgment. And not without good cause! It is a message which makes astonishing good sense when seen in its fullness. Like a golden thread of internal logic, it weaves together soteriology (beliefs about final events) and eschatology (beliefs about final events). It is a motivator for action and a guard against indifference.

But more than that, it is the judgment message which -- to a large degree -- comprises the Seventh-day Adventist's distincitive message as a Christian group to the rest of the world. In addition to all that we share with other Christians, Seventh-day Adventists have something special which we are persuaded needs to be said to the worlds before the end can come. And this distinctive message can well be organized around the theme of final judgment.

We can look at that distinctive message under the following five heading:

A. Judgment Is Good News!

The mighty angel of Revelation 14 who announces the time and importance of the judgment is described as having "the everlasting gospel."(1) We know that the word gospel means simply 'good news' -- a message thoughtful people will be glad to hear.

And thoughtful people will be glad to hear the message of judgment for at least two reasons. First, those who are on God's side in the controversy will rejoice when judgment is given "in favor of the saints of the Most High."(2) God's people, having experienced the brunt of Satans's accusations, will be delighted to see the time come when, before the whole universe, "he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I shall behold his deliverance."(3)

But on an even grander scale, the judgment is good news because this is when the Judge Himself is exonerated from all Satan's charges. It means the ending of all conflict -- the entire universe being brought back into complete oneness with God. Thus the at-one-ment will be complete, and rebellion will be no more.

When the judgment is over and the now-peaceful universe gathers to celebrate its outcome, it is worth noticing the words to the song which the redeemed will sing:

"Great and marvellous are thy deeds,
O LORD God, sovereign over all;
Just and true are thy ways,
Thou king of the ages.
Who shall not rever thee, LORD,
And do homage to thy name?
For thou alone art holy.
All nations shall come and worship in thy presence,
for thy just dealings stand revealed."(4)

No wonder the saints whohave died for thir faith cry out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth."(5)

B. Judgment Reveals How God Sin-Proofs the Universe!

It will be an infinite, eternal thrill to see a universe secure against the possibleility of sin ever rising up again. But what will be even more thrilling will be to see how God does it! Indeed, it is the method which God uses to end the sin problem which makes it secure.

The final judgment is a statement that God will end the controversy by revealting truth rather than by exercising power. It puts the focus on the free, thoughtful response of persons created in God's image and thus able to make sense out of spiritual realities. The judgment presents a picture of a people choosing to set their loyalties upon God forever, because they have come to know him as He is. It sets forward a conviction that people's characters will be restored into perfect readiness for heaven because God has used the methods of truth, love, and freedom -- rather than recreating those characters by divine fiat.

The Adventist understanding of the judgment emphasizes that the sin problem is located in man's opinion of God rather than in God's opinion of man. Thus the focus is not a dreadful "What does God think of me when my name comes up in the courts of heaven?" Rather, it is a positive "what do I think of God in the our of His judgment?" And also "What does the world think about my God because of what they have seen in me?"

C. Christlikeness of Character -- Privilege, Not Duty.

The Adventist understanding of the final judgment puts a wholly new context around the Christian's concern for holiness of life -- for Christlikeness of character. Never again is the attitude of perfect submission to God's will seen as some staggering duty, exacted from us as the reluctant price to be paid for admission to the kingdome. Instead, the Christian's heart thrills to each new call to holiness, to each deeper convicting of the Spirit to "come up higher" in personal piety. For it is our privilege to "give glory to him"(6) in the hour of HIs judgment. We count it the highest honor to let our lights shine in such a way that people will, through what they see of God through us, give glory to the Father.(7) The deepest longings of our hears center in being ready to respond to that call to go forth with trimmed and fully fueled lamps to prepare the way for the coming of the Bridegroom.(8) At a time when thick darkness covers the earth (darkness of the misunderstanding of God's character), we believe the noble commission is ours to "arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."(9)

Dismal, self-centered, anxiety-ridden concerns are gone! Who has time for them? God has given us higher reasons to liver -- to life for Him who for our sakes died and was raised.(10)

D. Final Judgment is a Clearer Message About God.

Seventh-day Adventists see a sensible, overriding purpose to every detail of their life-style -- and it is judgment-related!

If God's will is an expression of His wonderful character, then every aspect of that will, lived out fully in our lives, will allow some aspect of His character to shine attractively to others. And everytying we stay or do which reveals His character helps someone prepare for judgment. For example, we get excited about principles of health, for we see in them such wise, sensible, powerful, God-ordained methods for fighting disease and staying well. When they are lived, they make God look so good! We get excited about God's detailed plans for education, because they tend to produce such capable, secure, Christlike young men and women, able to serve as Jesus served when He came to reveal the Father. And others looking on are better able to make informed decisions about God in the great final showdown of the ages.

And so it continues with principles of family life, business ethics, community service -- no part of life is excluded. The totality of what we are lends credibility to what we say about our God. And for this reason, we long to gladly, fully embrace all that God has offered us. For it is all a revelation of Himself -- to us, then through us. And the world needs nothing so much as a full, accurate revelation of the character of God, that they might make an informed choice in the time of judgment.

E. A Message that Completes the Purpose for Israel's Call!

Some contemporary authors have wondered if Adventism might be failing in its attempt to complete the Protestant Reformation (in the full preaching of justification by faith.) Upon closer examination it becomes clear that Adventists have never claimed to be rooted in a sixteenth-century movement. Indeed, the purposes God sought to accomplish on earth are better defined by Moses and his movement than by Luther and his movement. God calls Israel "the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise."(11) He intended that through them His wonderful character might be demonstrated to all the surrounding nations.(12) His ideal plan was that they sould know their God so well that, when he came to them in humanity to die as their Saviour, they should accept Him and carry the message of His life, death, and resurrection to the whole world. Very shortly, then, would the world be brought to judgment and God's eternal kingdom established.

But as a nation, the Jews never seemed to understand their God,(13) much less His plan for them. And so all that God intended to be accomplished through literal Israel became the privilege of spiritual Israel.(14) Now God's design is that "through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord."(15)

Seventh-day Adventists believe that God's desire for us and for all Christians who would join in this privilege is the same as it was for Israel:

"Then they will be my people,
and I will be their God.
I will give them a single purpose in life:
To honor me for all time,
For their own good
and the good of their descendents."(16)

The End

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