Christian Library

The Sifting
Pastor John Grosboll

Sermon notes are a transcript from the sermon with only minor editing, retaining the conversational style.


Let’s look at Amos 9 and see what the Bible describes as a sifting.  We can read about this sifting in both the Old and New Testament, but Amos 9:8–10 is a prophecy especially about the last days.  The Lord says He is going to have a sifting that is going to involve everybody in the world.  Another text in the Old Testament about this sifting is Isaiah 30:28.  This also is a prophecy about the last days.  Verses 29 and 30 of Isaiah 30 Ellen White applies to the protection that God’s people are going to have and to the deliverance they will have at midnight, about the time of the sixth plague.  Just before that, in verse 28, we are told what is going to happen just before that time: His breath is like an overflowing stream, which reaches up to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of futility.  There shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.”  So there is going to be a great sifting in the world. 

Let’s look at several aspects of the sifting.  First of all, the sifting separates the wheat from the chaff.  Secondly, the sifting is not something that just happens once and happens in an instance.  It is a process that happens repeatedly.  We have to go through a sifting that takes place over and over and over again, and we have to endure it and last through it.  There are examples given us in the Bible of times when there was a sifting that took place over and over and again and again and again. 

Let me read to you from the writings of Ellen White about this process of the sifting that went on over and over again, when Jesus was here.  When Jesus was here, Ellen White says He sifted His followers over and over again.  “He that is not with Me, said Christ, “is against Me.” It is wholehearted, thoroughly decided men and women who will stand now. Christ sifted His followers again and again, until at one time there remained only eleven and a few faithful women to lay the foundation of the Christian church.”  Testimonies, vol. 5, 129.

So what happened?  Was there a time when Christ had thousands and thousands of followers?  Yes, there was.  Then a sifting process began.  And did it happen just once?  No, it was a process that took place over and over and over again.  Mrs. White says that Christ sifted His followers again and again.  Now you cannot do something again until you have done it once.  She says He sifted His followers again and again, so the sifting process is something that happened over and over again.  By the time Jesus got done sifting His followers, astonishingly, He only had eleven men left, at one time. 

In fact, in John 6, one of the great sifting times, it says that multitudes forsook Him.  “From that hour many turned and followed Him no more.”  There had been multitudes following Him, but not only did they not follow Him any more, they sent out messengers against Him trying to keep anyone else from following Him.  The sifting was so bad at that point that Jesus said to His disciples, “Are you going to go away too?”  (Verse 67.)  They decided not to do it.  At that very point, Jesus said to them, “I have chosen you twelve, but one of you is a devil.”  (Verse 70.)  So Jesus intimated right there that even among the twelve there was one more that was going to leave.  Did that happen?  Yes, that happened.  It says He sifted them over and over until there were only eleven left, along with some faithful women.  We do not know how many of them there were, but there were some faithful women.  Mary Magdalene was one of them. 

So it is a process.  It separates the wheat from the chaff, and it takes place not just once but over and over again.  And wheat can be sifted and lost.  Let’s read about that in the New Testament in the words of Jesus Himself.  Look in Luke 22:31, 32: “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon!  Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brothers.’ ”  Did Peter get sifted? Yes, he got sifted.  Ellen White says he was thoroughly sifted.  (See Testimonies, vol. 4, 246.)  If you get sifted, you are in a lost condition.  Peter was in a lost condition that night he denied his Lord.  You cannot go to heaven denying your Lord.  In Matthew 10:32–33, Jesus says, “The person who denies Me on earth, I will deny him in Heaven.”  He is not saved; he is lost.  Peter was in a lost condition.  The Lord had mercy on Peter, however, and did not allow his probation to close right then.

Maybe there has been a time in all of our lives, when we were in a lost condition.  If the Lord had allowed us to drop dead or to die in a car accident right at that moment, we would have been lost, but the Lord chose to give us another opportunity.  The Lord gave Peter another chance.  Let me ask you a question.  This is just a thought-provoking question, something for you to think through.  The Lord gave Peter another chance; maybe He has given someone else or me another chance.  When we look back into our past, we may see a time in our life when, if the Lord had allowed us to die right then, we would have been lost.  But the Lord had great mercy upon us, and He allowed us to have more opportunity.

Now here is the question: Can God keep on infinitely giving you or me another opportunity?  In other words, if you get sifted again, the Lord gives you another opportunity.  How long can that continue?  Well, it cannot go on forever.  See, there has to come a time when you can be subjected to the sifting process and you won’t get sifted.  There has to come a time.  That is something we want to study and understand. 

Who is going to be sifted?  We read in Isaiah 30 that the whole world is going to be sifted.  There is going to be a bridle that will cause the people to err.  The church is going to be sifted.  It says in the book, Maranatha, page 48,  “Every true child of God will be sifted as wheat.”  So who is going to get sifted?  It is not just the world.  We read in Isaiah 30 they are going to get sifted, but God’s people are going to be sifted also.  Every child of God . . . that is you, that is me.  We are going to get sifted.  What is going to happen to us in this sifting process?  Listen to this: “In the sifting process, every cherished pleasure that diverts the mind from God must be sacrificed.”  Ibid.  So something has to happen to us in this sifting process if we are going to survive it.

We have looked briefly at what the shaking is.  It separates the wheat and the chaff.  If you get sifted out, you are in a lost condition until you get back in the sieve.  Peter got back into the sieve.  The Lord gave him another chance.  But the Lord cannot give you more and more chances forever, because the time is coming when the work is going to be finished, and this world is going to end.  Is that right?  It is going to be too late to keep giving more chances forever.  We have to learn to go through the sifting without getting sifted out.  And we are all going to be sifted.  Let’s look at a couple more quotations to see how it works.

When is the sifting going to take place?  When is it going to happen?  There are two answers to that question.  Remember that we saw that Jesus sifted His followers again and again.  It is a process.  When you ask, when is the sifting going to take place, the first answer is, it is taking place now.  The Spirit of Prophecy says the Lord is sifting His people right now.  (See Testimonies, vol. 4, 51.)  But there is also a second answer to that question.

We are not done with the sifting process yet.  The sifting is going to become more severe right at the end.  When Jesus was here the first time, did the sifting become more severe right at the end?  It certainly did.  When you study the life of Jesus and you study the sifting process, if you follow Him through His ministry, during the first few months, He spent that time mainly in Judea.  But what happened?  He was rejected in Judea.  That was in the first part of 27 a.d. until the fall of 28 a.d.  So He spent the most part of a year working mainly in Judea.  He was rejected in Judea, and He went to Galilee.  You can read about that in John 4.  That was in the latter part of 28 a.d.  He had a Galilean ministry that was very successful for just a little over a year.  It was so successful that Ellen White said that it looked for a time like the power or hierarchy of the Jewish church was going to be broken.  (See The Desire of Ages, 359.)  The cities of Bethsada and Capernaum and some of these large cities in Galilee accepted Him for a while, and it looked like the whole country was going to turn to Him.  But it did not quite happen.

Jesus brought on another sifting experience, and that is when they turned away from Him.  That is in John 6.  Then, in John 7, you can read how His own family did not believe on Him.  Are you aware what finally happened in the last few weeks of Jesus’ life, before He was crucified?  We cannot determine the exact amount of time.  Some people think it was in the neighborhood of six weeks, but during that period of time Galilee had rejected Him, Judea had rejected Him, and finally, during the last weeks of His life, Jesus was in seclusion.  Not that He refused to see people; the Bible says there were many people who came to Him, and He ministered to them, but He had been rejected all over the country, until His followers numbered only eleven and a few faithful women.  So when you ask the question as to when the sifting occurs, it is happening right now, but it will become more severe. 

Let’s take a look at one statement concerning that.  It is found in several places, but here in Book 3 of Selected Messages, 384, it says “All the policy in the world cannot save us from a terrible sifting, and all the efforts made with high authorities will not lift from us the scourging of God, just because sin is cherished.  If as a people we do not keep ourselves in the faith and not only advocate with pen and voice the commandments of God, but keep them every one, not violating a single precept knowingly, then weakness and ruin will come upon us.”

So what is going to happen to some Adventists if we do not practice what is preached?  Two things are going to happen: weakness and ruin are going to come upon us.  Well, now, let’s ask this question, and this is one of the most important questions of all, How does the sifting take place?  Remember, we are using something that is physical to explain something that is spiritual.  Physically, you can take a sieve and separate the chaff from the wheat.

When we are talking about a spiritual sifting, how does it take place?  The sifting takes place when you are brought into contact with temptation.  We all know what temptation is—when you have a strong motivation to do something that is wrong.  Maybe it is to get gain or maybe to avoid some sort of suffering.  But the sifting by temptation is that something that is taking place in your life?  Do you have temptations?  The person who gets sifted out is a person who yields to temptation and does not get the victory over temptation.  That is the most general statement I suppose you could make about the sifting.

Ellen White mentioned a number of specific things that would happen in Adventism that would bring about a sifting.  I will mention what they are, and you think about whether they are happening. 

The first one is fanaticism.  Ellen White says fanaticism would result in a sifting.  (See The Great Controversy, 522.)  What is fanaticism?  The last sermon my brother, Marshall Grosboll, preached was about fanaticism, one of the dangerous ways God’s people are being shaken.  Let me try to define it as simply as I know how.  Fanaticism is taking God’s word and saying you believe it, but you go beyond the specifications.  You go beyond what He has specified. 

One of the primary groups of people in the time of Christ who had become fanatical in their thinking and practices was the Pharisees.  There are some Christians who have not studied this issue carefully, and they think Jesus did not keep the Sabbath—because Jesus did not keep the Sabbath according to the Pharisees’ rules.  Jesus kept the Sabbath according to the law of Moses, but He did not keep the Sabbath according to the Pharisees’ rules.  For instance, the Pharisees had a rule that was directly contrary to the Bible (by the way, that is where fanaticism gets you, going directly contrary to what the Bible says).  In the Old Testament, Moses said that if you were passing by your neighbor’s field and the field was ripe, you could take the fruit you needed to eat.  It says you cannot take it and put it in a container, that would be stealing, but if you are hungry and you pass by your neighbor’s field and you see apples or whatever, you can take one and eat it.  (See Deuteronomy 23:24, 25.)  That is the law Moses laid down.  Now the disciples did that, but the Pharisees said that rule does not apply to the Sabbath.  Moses did not say that.  You can read in Matthew 12 where the Pharisees came to Jesus because the disciples had passed through a field and had taken some grain and rubbed it in their hands and eaten it.  The Pharisees told Jesus, “Your disciples are doing that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”  Jesus explained to them that His disciples were guiltless.  Man-made rules.  Man-made religion. 

Paul had to fight this during his whole ministry.  In Colossians 2:21–23, it says “ ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ which all concern things that perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?  These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”  Paul says, do not have anything to do with this man-made religion. 

There are only two kinds of religion in the world.  People think there are hundreds of kinds of religions in the world, but there are only two.  There is religion that is based on the Word of God, and there is religion that is based on the word of man.  Fanaticism is based on the word of man.  Oh, someone says, it is not my word; our church got together and wrote a book, and that is authoritative, because the church said so.  Now listen friend, no church has authority that supercedes the Bible.  The Bible says that Christ is the head of the church, and it is through the Holy Spirit that this Book is inspired.  (See Ephesians 5:23; II Timothy 3:16.)  This book is called the Word of God.  Christ is the Word; He is the Living Word.  This is the written word; the true body of Christ cannot go contrary to the head.  Can your body go contrary to your head?  No.  But fanaticism is one of the ways that people are being sifted today. 

We have more fanaticism today than at any time in my memory.  Much, much more than when I was a child.  Now, it is dangerous to talk about these things, because you do not know who is going to be offended.  I remember a few years ago, we were having Bible worker training school.  My brother was teaching, and I was sitting in the back of the class.  He asked the class to list the difference fanatical ideas that have come into Adventism, the different false doctrines.  He began to list them on the blackboard.  In just a few minutes they had a list of 22 items.

Is your faith based on the Word of God?  Do you know the Word of God?  Are you living according to the Book, or does your religion have man-made rules?  A man-made religion, as Paul says.  Paul says, in Colossians 2, do not have anything to do with them.  Do not touch it; do not handle it, or you will be taken in by deceptive theory.  He says those things are of no value to your real Christian experience, and they will not help you to withstand temptation. 

Well, that is not our primary subject, but before we leave it, let’s look at one more statement about it.  Friends, this is something we need to study very carefully.  If any of us have been taken in by fanatical ideas, we have to study this out, because if we do not overcome this, we are going to lose our soul.  “I saw that some who have formerly run deep into fanaticism would be the first now to run before God sends them, before they are purified from their past errors; having error mixed with the truth, they would feed the flock of God with it, and if they were suffered to go on, the flock would become sickly, and distraction and death would follow.  I saw that they would have to be sifted and sifted, until they were freed from all their errors, or they could never enter the kingdom.”  Early Writings, 62, 63.

That is a shocking statement, because I know people who have all kinds of errors mixed up with truth.  What does this statement say?  I have to be sifted and sifted until those errors are out of my mind, because if I hang on to them and do not let loose, I am not going to enter the kingdom.  Is fanaticism dangerous?  It is dangerous enough to keep you out of the kingdom of heaven, if you hold on to it.  Now we must all be humble, meek, gentle, willing to accept anything that is written in God’s Book. 

Last week when I was in Texas, a person came up to me and said, “I want to give you some counsel.” 

I said, “All right, I am listening.” 

Then this person said, “He that breaks one of the least commandments and teaches men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”  [Matthew 5:19.]  I knew what he was talking about. 

I turned right around to him and said, “I want to give you some counsel.” 

He said, “All right.”

I said, “I want to tell you if you keep those feast days, that is an insult to God, and you are going to have to face that in the day of Judgment.  You are insulting the Lord by what you are doing.  You will have to give that up, friend.  It will keep you out of the kingdom of heaven.  You cannot insult the Lord all the days of your life and go to the kingdom of heaven.  You cannot do it.  You have to overcome.” 

When I was a boy, we thought we had gotten over that fanatical idea about 1900 years ago, because the apostle Paul dealt with it as plainly as you can deal with it, in Galatians.  In fact, in Galatians, he told the people that anybody that hangs on to these Jewish customs was to be disfellowshipped from the church.

The devil has come in again with all kinds of fanatical ideas, and friends, do not think that we are all going to the same place, because we are not.  If we hold on to man-made ideas and traditions, we are going to be sifted out.  Ellen White says they would be sifted and sifted until they are freed from all their errors or they could never enter the kingdom.  Fanaticism is one of the ways that people are sifted. 

There is another one that is related to fanaticism, and that is heresy.  “God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat.  The Lord calls upon all who believe His word to awake out of sleep.  Precious light has come, appropriate for this time.  It is Bible truth, showing the perils that are right upon us.  This light should lead us to a diligent study of the scriptures and a most critical examination of the positions which we hold.  God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting.  Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill-defined ideas of what constitutes truth.  Their faith must be firmly founded upon the word of God so that when the testing time shall come and they are brought before councils to answer for their faith, they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is within them, with meekness and fear.”  Testimonies, vol. 5, 707, 708.

God wants you and me to be awake spiritually, and if He cannot wake us up any other way, He will allow heresies to come in to sift His people so we will wake up.  Are you ready to be arrested and taken to court and to tell the authorities, I believe what I believe for this reason; this is why I believe what I believe?  Are you ready to do that?  That is the way God wants you to be.  God wants you to be able to go to any court, any legislature, any branch of government, and explain to them why you believe what you believe.  Why do you believe Jesus is coming soon?  What do you believe is necessary to get ready?  Does the Bible give you the answer to those questions?  Yes, it does.  Can you explain it?  God wants you to be able to explain it.  Ellen White says we should study with fasting and prayer to find out exactly what the Bible teaches.  Can we explain to people what we believe?  Do we know from this Book what we believe?  If we do not, the Lord is going to allow heresies to come in that will cause the sifting. 

Maybe you are thinking that heresies and fanaticism are the only ways that we are sifted.  But there are other ways.  In fact, the way that Jesus used, we really have not mentioned yet.  We read that Jesus sifted His followers again and again.  We read that the devil sifts people, but Jesus also sifts people.  Jesus does not sift people with heresy or fanaticism. 

How does Jesus sift people?  Well, this is very interesting. Jesus sifts people with the truth.  You may ask, what are you talking about?  We were just talking about being sifted by fanaticism and heresy, and now you are saying I can be sifted by the truth?  That is right.  The difference is the heresy or the fanaticism sifts you, if you accept it.  Truth sifts you, if you do not accept it.  Again, Christ said that “he that is not for Me is against Me, and he that gathers not with Me scatters abroad.”  Matthew 12:30.  The plain words of truth, spoken by our Saviour, sifted His followers down to a few faithful ones who laid the foundation of the Christian church.

What did Jesus want?  He wanted people who were thoroughly converted.  He did not want somebody who is half-hearted.  So He applied a sifting test over and over again to sift out people who were half-hearted.  Here is what happened.  Many of the people who were wealthy, honorable, and educated, when they listened to the teachings of Christ, were charmed by them, and they had a desire to follow Him.  Then why did they not follow?  Because Jesus did something that sifted them out.  Do you know what He did to sift them out?  

There is a saying among preachers, at least there used to be, that it is when you make religion practical that you start stepping on people’s toes.  As long as you are dealing in theological theories, then it is all right.  But when you start making it practical, asking how does this work out in my every day life, then people get offended.  That is what Jesus did, and that is the way He applied the sifting test.  Many of the wealthy, honorable, noble ones of the world were charmed by His teachings, and they wanted to follow Him, but why didn’t they?  “When the truth in its practical bearings was brought home to their hearts and lives, they drew back, and walked no more with Jesus.”  Review and Herald, December 2, 1875. 

Jesus made the truth practical.  Let’s look at an example.  As long as Jesus was dealing with theology, teaching, the rich, young ruler said, I am all in harmony with Him.  He said, I have done all that, what do I lack yet?  So Jesus got really practical.  See, this man had an idol in his heart.  There was something that he loved more than the kingdom of heaven.  He did not even know it was there.  Here is the scary thing about the sifting.  The sifting makes evident what is in our hearts that maybe we did not even know was there.  So Jesus said to this young man, if you want to be perfect, you go home, sell your possessions and come and follow Me, and you will have treasure in heaven, instead of the other way around.  (See Luke 18:18–23.)

Right now, the sifting test is applied.  This man is either going to go one way or another, and that is what the sifting does, it separates the wheat from the chaff when the sifting test is applied.  He had a choice.  Did he have to be sifted out?  No, it was his choice.  What opportunity did he have? 

As I have studied this story, a number of times, and tried to meditate upon it, often I think about the day of Judgment, and I think about the millennium.  When I have important decisions to make, often I think to myself, now a thousand years from now, when I am in the millennium and I think back to this day and the decisions I made today, how is it going to look?     

When you look at it from the standpoint of the millennium, looking back to that day when that young man made that decision, what would have been the smart thing to do?  The smart thing to do would have been to put everything for sale quick, give it to the poor, and get with the Lord.  Did he have an infinite amount of time to be with the Lord?  No.  That was in the latter part of Jesus’ ministry, and he only had probably a matter of months at the most that he could have spent with the Lord.  He only had a little time.

When we are going through the sifting test, we as human beings do not know the future.  Sometimes we think, oh, the requirement of God is so hard.  Have you ever known someone who thought that?  When you look at it from the millennium viewpoint, the smart thing for this young ruler to do is get his possessions sold quickly, and get with the Lord.  He could have been one of the apostles.  Ellen White would not have had to write that there were only eleven men left; she could have said there were twelve men.  Imagine what could have happened.  He could have had a part in Pentecost.  When the apostles baptized those three thousand people, he could have been doing some of the baptizing.  When the gospel went out to the Gentiles, he could have been involved in that.  He could have been an apostle.  This invitation Jesus gave him was very wonderful.  Jesus was giving him the same invitation that He gave to Peter, James and John.  They accepted it. 

After this experience, the disciples had a discussion, and the Lord said, it is very difficult for rich men to enter into the kingdom of heaven; they will scarcely make it.  The disciples were so astonished.  Peter got to thinking about it, and he thought to himself, well, we have left everything; we did what that fellow would not do.  So Peter asked the Lord, what about us?  We did do it.  What is going to happen?  Jesus said, I want to tell you that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man comes again, you that have followed me are going to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  Do you realize that young man could have been one of those?  Do you realize the magnitude of the offer Jesus was giving to him?  He could have been one of the leaders in the universe of God for eternity.  But he got sifted out. 

What sifted out the young ruler?  The practical application of the truth.  That still happens.  In Jesus’ day, there were people that loved theological truth, but when He made the truth practical, they got mad.  Have you ever seen that happen?—I believe the seventh day is the Sabbath; I believe that when the dead die, they go to sleep, they are unconscious; I believe that Jesus is coming soon; I believe in the teaching of the heavenly sanctuary, as it is taught in Hebrews; I believe in the writings of Ellen White, and that she was a prophet.—People believe, until you open one of those books and read something that steps on their toes, and then everything changes.  People are told to not become fanatical.  You cannot become fanatical following the Lord’s words and doing what the Bible says.  You become fanatical when you go beyond what it says, like the Pharisees did. 

One of the ways Adventists are being sifted today is not just by heresy and not by fanaticism, it is by the truth, in its practical bearings.  It is when truth becomes practical—when we realize how it effects the way we should talk, and the way we need to eat, and the way we need to conduct our family, and what we need to do with our money, and how we need to order our lives.  When it got practical, this rich, young ruler demonstrated what was in his heart when the sifting test was applied.  He demonstrated that he loved those possessions more than he loved the kingdom of heaven and being with the Lord.  

Before time is over, every single one of us will go through the very same test and demonstrate which way we are going to go.  We will show the whole universe what we love the most.  Do you know why?  Because right at the end, Ellen White says God’s people are delivered, those people who sacrificed all for Christ will be secured.  (See The Great Controversy, 613, 314.)  You see, they will have done what Peter and John did, they left everything and followed Him. 

There is another way the sifting works.  So far, we have looked at temptations, fanaticism, heresy, and the practical application of truth in the life, and this has to do with temptation too.  “The world is the instrument that sifts the church and tests the genuineness of its members.”  “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1102.  The world!  How does the world sift God’s people?   The world holds out inducements.  Have you ever experienced that?  But you have to compromise something to get it.  So you get tested as to who and what you love the most. 

By the way, here is a test.  I mentioned this before, and I will mention it again.  This is a test that you can apply yourself every week, and nobody else needs to know about it.  It is totally between you and the Lord.  The Lord knows all about it, of course, because He knows what is going on in your mind.  If, on the Sabbath day, you have a hard time spending that time with the Lord because there is all kind of worldly business and things going through your mind—watch out!  You are not ready for a sifting test.  You see, what you love the most is easiest for you to think about.  If on the Sabbath day, the thoughts of the world that have been going through your mind all week are so uppermost in your mind that you cannot get them out and you cannot spend that time with the Lord, then there is a problem.  Now you do not need to tell me about it; you do not need to tell your husband or wife about it, but you had better talk to the Lord about it, if you have that problem, because you are not ready for the sifting test. 

Let’s ask another question: Why?  Perhaps there is someone reading this that will ask, Why does God put us through all this?  Well, there is a reason.  Remember Jesus put people through a sifting test because He did not want people who were half hearted.  Would you like to marry somebody who is only half in love with you?  Jesus wants to know where your heart is.  This is the reason He applies a sifting test.  Let’s read a statement about one of the reasons for it:  “ ‘God is sifting his people.  He will have a clean holy people. We cannot read the heart of man.  But he has provided means to keep the church pure.’ ”  Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, 201.  Mrs. White goes on to say that a corrupt people have arisen, and if the Lord had not made a way to get them out of the church, the church would suffer the wrath of God.  Have you ever thought that through?  If corrupt, open sin is allowed to stay in the church, and the wrath of God will come upon that church. 

One of the reasons God puts us through the sifting test is because He wants people who are pure and holy.  He is in the business of purifying people. We can study about the Refiner’s Fire.  That is God’s business, to purify a people unto Himself.  Look at what it says in Revelation 2.  Often times when we read in our Bibles, we read so fast that we do not pick up every single thought and idea.  H. M. S. Richards, Sr. even had this problem, and he said one time he read the whole New Testament backwards to force himself to think while he was reading.  I have found that reading the New Testament in a foreign language forces you to slow down and think about what you are reading and studying.  You need to develop whatever method you see fit so that when you read your Bible, you concentrate on what it is really saying.

Now I had read this text many times, and when I first took Greek in college, I recognized I had never noticed what it said at all.  I had not paid much attention to it, but when I had to translate it, I was immediately in trouble.  This is Revelation 2:23.  First let’s look at it in the KJV, and this verse is a very interpretive translation.  The translators are trying to make this text make sense.  I will tell you what it literally says next, then you can see why they did what they did.  In the old KJV it uses the word “reins.”  I had not the faintest idea what that was; I thought it was something that dealt with horses, not people.  In the NKJV, Revelation 2:23 says “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”  I search the minds and the heart.  What is the sifting for?  God wants to know what is in our hearts.  He already knows, but He is going to arrange affairs so that you will reveal it to everybody in the whole universe.  And that is what the sifting is all about. 

In ancient times, people had various theories about where your emotions were located in your body.  Have you ever heard the Biblical expression called bowels of mercies?  That is because they thought your emotions were located in your intestinal system.  And another place they thought your thoughts and feelings, your emotions, were located was in your kidneys.  Revelation 2:23, in the Greek Bible, says, “I am the One who searches the kidneys and the hearts.”  Beginning Greek students always have a time trying to figure out what the Lord was trying to tell people.  God is searching the inner part of your being, your thoughts, your feelings, and your emotions.  He wants to know what is in there.  Not for His own benefit.  He knows, but He wants the universe to see.  If the whole universe is going to make a decision whether you are going to have eternal life or eternal death, how is that decision going to be made?  The Lord says, I am going to sift you.  I am going to apply sifting tests, and these people are going to reveal to the whole universe what is inside. 

Are you ready to have revealed what is in your heart?  Do you want a heart that is right?  The universe can see what is in your heart, and it will be all right, because you are pure.  You love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself, and you are not embarrassed or ashamed for anyone to know about it. Is your heart right?  Friends we are living in a time when we need to look at our hearts and say Lord, prepare me to pass the sifting test.  Make me pure and true.  Do not be thinking about somebody next to you.  We have permission from the Lord to check ourselves out, to look into our own heart and say Lord, what is inside, is it what should be inside?  What condition is your heart in today friend? Have you yielded Him your body and soul?  That is the only way that you can pass the sifting test is if you have made a complete dedication to Jesus, if you have surrendered everything to Him.  You cannot have peace and rest; you cannot have eternal life, until you have made a surrender of your heart and everything you have to Jesus. 

God is a searcher of hearts, and will accept nothing less than entire devotion to the work and consecration to Himself.  Do you want to make that commitment today?  Do you want to commit to the Lord, whether it is the first time or you have done it many times in the past, it is important for us to do this often.  Actually, we should consecrate ourselves to the Lord every morning before we do anything else.  Do you want to recommit yourself to the Lord today, and say Lord I am devoting, I am choosing to give my whole heart to You?  Now you cannot do that unless the Lord works a miracle in your life.  But if you choose, He will make a miracle happen in your life.

We do not realize, friends, how much God needs to do for us in order for us to be saved, and He cannot do what He needs to do unless we make a full commitment.  Does your heart His spirit control?  That is the only way you can have rest.  That is the only way you can have peace.  That is the only way you can pass the sifting test.  And if you want to say that to Him right now, in your heart cry out to Him, saying Lord, I am choosing to dedicate my heart, my life in complete surrender to You.



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