To The Uttermost
In the sight of God, is there a hopeless case in this world? There are five stories to which I would like to refer, which are found in the Word of God. They are true living experiences that Inspiration records for us.
The first story is about a young David, who went up against the giant, Goliath. The situation there was apparently hopeless. If a vote had been taken from the Philistines and the Israelites standing and watching what was about to happen, the vote would have been unanimous: Defeat for David. (See 1 Samuel 17.)
Second, is a story about Naaman, a man who had a hopeless, incurable disease—leprosy. He was in a situation that was seemingly hopeless. (See 2 Kings 5.)
The third story involves three young Hebrew men who were taken captive and, with a vast company
of Babylonians, were told to bow down to an image which King Nebuchadnezzar had erected on the Plain of Dura. Everyone bowed down except the three young Hebrews. It was an apparently hopeless situation for those three young men. (See Daniel 3.)
The fourth story, is the experience of 13 men in a ship on the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of a storm. The ship was filling with water, and it was sinking. It appeared to be another hopeless situation. (See Luke 8.)
The last story is the experience of two men in a dungeon, chained to the wall at midnight. Another totally hopeless situation. (See Acts 16.)
God has three lessons to teach us from each of these experiences. Every situation, from the human standpoint, was apparently hopeless, but God intervened in each case, and He brought hope to the hopeless.
1 God says, I can do the impossible for you. I am reminded what Gabriel said to Mary when he was talking to her about giving birth to the Son of God. He told her that there is nothing impossible with God. Not one thing. (See Luke 1:37.)
2 In these five experiences, we see God’s hand. In every deliverance from man’s hopelessness, there is God. Whether that man has realized it or not, acknowledged it or not, it is only God who can turn hopelessness into hope. Man can do nothing apart from God in regard to such situations. Some people may call it coincidence, but where there is deliverance from hopelessness, there is always the providence of God!
3 God wants us to remember that, through these physical experiences which He has left on record for us, He is able to give us deliverance in the spiritual, just as much as in the physical. By leaving these experiences on record, He seeks to encourage us with what He can do for us. Physical deliverance, in every case, was by the hand of God. He is also able to do that for us in our spiritual lives.
The Universal Dilemma
Man, universally, is in a hopeless situation. All men, on the face of this earth, face the same hopelessness that is revealed in this statement of inspiration: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6.
This is the universal, hopeless dilemma that is common to every man and woman who comes into this world of sin. Even our righteousness is as filthy rags to God. Whoever we are, at one time or another, we have all faced it, or we are facing it now.
This hopeless dilemma that we find ourselves in spiritually, because of sin, is increased. Job refers to it in Job 14:4. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." Our hopeless dilemma in sin is increased with the reality that we, in and of ourselves, can do nothing for ourselves about this situation. Not one human being has ever been able to make themself clean. It is totally hopeless!
The Most Hopeless Human Being
Even though we are all hopeless, there are degrees of hopelessness. Romans 7:18, 19 tells of an experience which reveals the greatest hopelessness that man can experience. Paul describes the man who is the most spiritually hopeless in this world today: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: [Now here is a man who has found out what Isaiah 64:6 says about all men. There is nothing good in me.] for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Verse 24.
The most hopeless individual on the face of the earth is the person who has become aware of their hopeless state and somehow senses that there is a remedy, but they do not know how to experience the solution. They have a will, but they are finding that the will is not sufficient to cleanse them from sin, from their dilemma, from their hopelessness in sin.
How Do I Rid Myself of Sin?
A person who recognizes that they have sin in their life, but they do not know how to get rid of the sin, is one of the most hopeless individuals on the face of the earth. Millions of human beings go about every day, every year, year in and year out, never even realizing their true condition before God. They never respond to God’s Spirit. But here is a person who does respond. They realize their wretched hopeless state, but they do not know how to remedy the problem. Oh, what hopelessness. God has an answer!
There was a time when my life looked like a ball of knotted up yarn in apparent total hopelessness. Some of us still have a life like this, and God is here to tell us that it is not hopeless. We find that we can do nothing of ourselves. It is impossible for us to escape from the pit of sin, in which we are sunken, by ourselves. "Our hearts are evil, and we can not change them.…Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless." Steps to Christ, 18.
So not only the uneducated, but the educated as well are in this situation. Not only the untalented, but also the talented. Not only the uncultured, but the cultured. It does not matter inwhat strata of society we find ourselves, this is an apparently hopeless situation for all mankind. But God has the ultimate answer. It is found in Hebrews 7:25: "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." Jesus lives right now; He exists right now, for you and for me. He will make intercession for us, if we will come to God through Him.
He is Able to Save to the Uttermost!
The word uttermost, has three meanings to the hopeless.
1 Jesus Christ is able to save the most hopeless, to the uttermost. God has the ability to pick a man up out of the gutter and stand him on his feet. It is amazing what God is able to do in the life of a man whose heart opens toward Him.
2 He is able to save us fully, completely from all sin. That is what uttermost means. God is not dealing with partial salvation. He is not dealing with an occasional experience of victory here and defeat there. God wants to give us an "uttermost" experience, a full deliverance from the hopelessness of sin.
3 He is able to save us forever. Jesus wants to save us from sin, not only today, but forever. He is not only able to do that, He is willing.
"There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness." Steps to Christ, 18. Our only help in this apparent, hopeless, spiritual dilemma in which we find ourselves, is in one Person only, one Being, and that is Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that Satan, the enemy of Christ, the enemy of truth, will seek to malign His name before men?
An Oasis of Hope
There is only one place that we can go for help in our hopeless dilemma. Thank God there is a place, and there is a Person who can take care of the problem. Let us look at four distinct steps that a person, who finds themself in this hopeless, sinful condition must take to overcome with Jesus Christ. These steps must be taken, if we are going to have hope. It is like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert when you are dying of thirst. It seems like all is hopeless, then, all of a sudden, there is an artesian well in the midst of the dry, hot sand. God has that for us, if we choose to wake up and respond.
The first two steps are found in Romans 7:24:
1 We must first wake up to the realization of Paul, when he exclaims, "‘O wretched man that I am!" That is simple. We must realize that when God says we are sinners, when God says that we are wretched, we must choose to believe that and to respond. We choose to accept the light from heaven and see ourselves as God sees us. We must wake up and realize who we are and how hopeless is our situation.
The sad thing is, most human beings never get to step one. They never realize that they are hopeless. They realize that this world is a terrible place, and they walk through their whole life complaining, murmuring, and justifying themselves. But they never wake up to the reality of their true condition before God, their Creator, so they never seek Him. It is a wonderful thing to come to recognize your true need, your true condition.
2 "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Step two is that we seek deliverance. We are not satisfied with our condition. It is not only becoming aware of our condition, but also becoming dissatisfied enough with it to want help, to want to right the wrong that we see in ourselves. It is called determination.
Determination goes beyond good intentions. It goes beyond desires for relationship. It is determination to experience what we see in the light of God’s Word. We may be totally hopeless, but we know there is something else, and so we seek it. It is like the merchantman seeking for the goodly pearl.
3 The third step is the step that man takes from hopelessness to hope in Jesus Christ. Jesus says, "‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’" Matthew 11:28. I am going to give you rest from sin; I am going to give you a whole new experience; I am going to give you victory over sin.
Recognizing Our Need
There is only one place that we can go to exchange hopelessness for hope, and that is to Christ. We come to recognize our need; we determine that we are going to have a change, and then when we find out where we can go, we go!
When my gas tank is almost empty, I do not stop in front of the dentist’s office. I do not pull up to the Post Office. I pull up to a gas station, because I know that is where I can get what I need. The only place where we can get what we need, to get us out of hopelessness and into hope in our spiritual experience with sin, is Jesus Christ. We must go to Him, personally, individually. Jesus says, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
John 6:37 says, "him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out." Do you know that Jesus never turns down a case, no matter how hopeless it is? You come to Jesus, and He accepts you. That is a marvelous thing! You see, God stands behind His Word. These are not just empty, spoken words. Oh, no. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (See Hebrews 13:8.) He stands behind His promise right now, this very moment in time.
Filled with Power
4 The fourth and final step is found in Matthew 11:29. Jesus says, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me." Jesus says, Come to Me and I will relieve you of the burden of sin. And then He says, Take from Me. What does He want to give us? He wants us to carry a yoke. He wants us to serve Him. He empowers us to do that. That is what He is saying: "Take My yoke upon you." Verse 29.
When He asks us to do something, He promises us the power to do it. Are you willing to do what God wants you to do? If you are not, you will not have power in your life. If you are, there will be power. It is as simple as that. In 1 John 3:7, John says, "little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous."
If you and I are to be made righteous, we must do righteousness. That is what Jesus is saying when He says, Take My yoke. He is saying, I want to empower you to do My righteousness, to do what is right. You see, we will never be righteous without doing righteousness. God is calling us to do righteousness, not just be righteous. The Christian life is not one of passivity; it is one of action.
I Will Direct Your Path
Proverbs 3:5, 6, sums up all four of these steps. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." God wants us to trust Him fully and completely. He wants us to acknowledge Him at all times, which means respond to Him, obey Him, and He has promised to direct our paths.
He has promised to direct us out of our hopeless state into a state of hopefulness, into hope with Him. "When temptations assail you, when care and perplexity surround you, when, depressed and discouraged, you are ready to yield to despair, look to Jesus, and the darkness that encompasses you will be dispelled by the bright shining of His presence. When sin struggles for the mastery in your soul, and burdens the conscience, look to the Saviour." The Ministry of Healing, 85.
When you need gas in your car, you go to a gas station. When you need hope in your hopeless life, you go to Jesus. It is as simple as that.
There is a true-life story in the Bible, which reveals these four steps. It is the story of a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. That is a long time to be in a state of hopelessness. It does not matter how long you have been in a hopeless condition, Jesus can still give you hope.
"And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, He saith unto him, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’" John 5:5, 6.
Was it the desire of Jesus to make this man whole, to make him happy, to fill him with hope instead of with hopelessness? Oh, yes. That is the desire that Jesus has for you and me every day. He wants to take our hopelessness and give us hope; He wants to take our sickness and give us health; He wants to take our weakness and give us strength, and He is able to do that because He is able to save us to the uttermost.
"The impotent man answered Him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath." Verses 7, 8.
This man first realized his need. How could he not? He could not walk. Second, He determined that he wanted help. That is why he was there at the pool. Hopefully, somehow or other, he was going to be healed miraculously, if he could just get there first! And third, Jesus came along, and he trusted what Jesus said. Fourth, he obeyed what Jesus said, and he was made whole.
Acting on Faith Brings Results
It is as simple as that. Faith is not enough. Justification is not enough. God not only wants to forgive us, but He also wants to help us to walk in newness of life. It is only as we are able to walk in newness of life that we have hope for everlasting life, a blessed assurance in Him.
Mrs. White comments on this experience: "The poor sufferer was helpless; he had not used his limbs for thirty-eight years. Yet Jesus bade him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ The sick man might have said, ‘Lord, if Thou wilt make me whole, I will obey Thy word.’ But, no, he believed Christ’s word, believed that he was made whole, and he made the effort at once; he willed to walk, and he did walk. He acted on the word of Christ, and God gave the power. He was made whole." Steps to Christ, 50.
This experience defines true will power. It is our will linked with His power. That kind of power will enable us to move from hopelessness to hope.
There are three lessons that God wants us to learn from these experiences:
1 God is able to save those who are the most hopeless. He wants us always to remember that. If you find yourself in that situation today, you can know that God is interested. His focus is on you, because He cares.
2 He has the ability and the power to fully save us from all sin. We do not have to be burdened with guilt because of sin in our lives. We can be filled with peace as a result of His power working in us, enabling us to live righteously before Him, all the time.
3 He wants to help us today, so that we might be with Him forever. He is able to save us evermore. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." John 14:1–3.
It is a full salvation that He is wanting for us, to take us from the most hopeless state into the most hopeful. The most hopeful state will be to someday see Jesus face to face, and walk into our Father’s house.
Do you want to be there? Do you choose to be there? Then choose to meet the four steps every day with Jesus Christ, to grow and receive the power that He wants to give to you. Choose to put your will with His power and be enabled to become everything He intended you to be as His created child.
March 2002 Table of Contents