Today many people, even among Seventh-day Adventists, attend church to be entertained. This is why we have celebration churches and sermons that are watered-down messages. This should not surprise us, however, for we have been warned that it would take place. ""Teach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." II Timothy 4:2–4.
In Jesus’ ministry, there came a time when a crisis point was reached. You can read about this experience in the chapter in The Desire of Ages entitled, "The Crisis in Galilee." It was at this time that Jesus clearly spelled out the spiritual nature of His kingdom. To many, His words were difficult to accept. We find their response recorded in John 6:60. "Many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, ‘This is an hard saying; who can hear it?’"
Have you at some time heard a message, which was just, more than you could handle? At that point, the road appeared too rugged. The reality is that it only appears impossible to the carnally minded. The person who is converted finds that he has no problem with it.
To Each One the Test Comes
In the life of every person, there comes a time when he must make a decision and take a stand. Though this decision will require an effort, when we remember that we are talking about decisions that will affect our eternal happiness, we realize that we are talking about a priceless treasure, something that we cannot adequately measure.
Every decision that we make in this life has its affect upon our characters. This, in turn, determines our eternal destiny. It matters not what area of our life we are speaking of; for the Bible tells us, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31.
Solomon, a very rich man, recognized the futility of worldly gain, apart from eternal considerations. He said, "I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits: I made me pools of water to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them. I withheld not my heat from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity." Ecclesiastes 2:4–11. In addition, the Bible also tells us that he had about one thousand wives.
I compared this passage with that found in the NIV and found that the NIV more nearly expresses it as translated in Martin Luther’s German translation. It says, "Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained." Is it not amazing that a man could have everything his heart desired and at the end say, "It was so useless"?
Jesus said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the wold world, and lose his own soul?" Matthew 16:26. There is a reason why He said that. The time is coming when we will have to pass on; and when that time comes, we will not be able to take with us any o the things we have accumulated in this life. How short-sighted to do as many are doing today, selling their birthright for a mess of pottage. For some, it is for a job. Others trade eternal life for an unbelieving spouse, or a friendship; and for some it is their appetite. Whatever the object to be obtained, people are selling their eternal life for that which will prove to be of no worth in view of eternity.
Jesus said, "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:33. Is that a hard saying? It is for some people, because they find that there are certain things that they still want to hang to. But for the truly converted person, it will not be a problem.
Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:23, 24. Is it impossible? No, it is not impossible; but it is difficult. However, "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Luke 16:13. Though a person may try to have both heaven and the world, eventually a decision must be made. Jesus will accept nothing less than 100 percent. Ellen White makes a statement that almost saved does not mean almost saved but wholly lost. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 118.) A serious though, is it not?
The message that Jesus gave to the people of His day was too difficult for many of those who had been following Him to accept. "From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." John 6:66. There were twelve of His closest friends, however, who stayed with Him no matter what happened. Turning to them, Jesus asked, "Will ye also go away?" Verse 67. Did the twelve disciples have a choice to leave Him? Yes. They could have left, but they chose not to.
We may be faced with a similar choice someday. In fact, even now as we look around us, we see the numbers lessening. We should not be disappointed, however, because the number will always be small; but we are in the majority as long as we are on the side of the Lord. We may not be able to realize it right now, but we will at the end.
In response to Jesus’ question, Peter answered, "To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." John 6:18. That was a good answer. If we leave Jesus, what do we have left? It is the same question that we can ask ourselves today. On one side there is apostasy, worldliness, and heresies. We have no choice but to go where the truth is being preached, because that is where Jesus is. It is so simple. That is what Peter said. "Lord, to whom shall we go?" There is no eternal life when you have error. There is only eternal life where there is truth.
Only Eternal Life Where There is Truth
Now if we have that attitude and conviction, we do not have to fear, even if everybody leaves us. Men may disappoint us, but Jesus will not. As long as we stick to the Word, we are securely united to Him; and when we are one with Christ, of course, we will be one with each other. It is this unity that we need to experience, especially as Historic Adventists.
"The oneness and unity of God’s truth-believing remnant people carries powerful conviction to the world that they have the truth, and are the peculiar, chosen people of God. This oneness and unity disconcerts the enemy, and he is determined that it shall not exist. The present truth, believed in the heart and exemplified in the life, makes God’s people one, and gives them a powerful influence." Testimonies, vol. 1, 327. But while we are to seek unity, it is never to be formed on the platform of error. We cannot unify with any who are preaching error. This does not work because just as Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters," neither "can two walk together except they be agreed." Amos 3:3.
"There is no compromise in the Word of God for those who conform to the world. The Son of God was manifested that He might draw all men unto Him. But He came not to lull the world to sleep—not to send peace, but a sword. The followers of Christ must walk in the light of His glorious example; and, at whatever sacrifice of ease or selfish indulgence, at whatever cost of labor or sufferings, we must maintain the constant battle with self, exalt the gospel standard, and push forward the triumphs of the cross." Signs of the Times, September 12, 1878.
In Matthew 10:35, 36, Jesus gave us another hard saying. "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household." When we truly accept Christ and follow His words, there will always be division and separation. This is because there is a collision of spirits that just cannot get alone. That is why it says in II Corinthians 6:14–18, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion that light with darkness?" When we determine to fully follow Jesus, we may expect misunderstanding, hatred, disunity, division, and sometimes even war. "The faithful presentation of the message of truth will always cause division. And upon the messenger of truth the blame of the trouble will be cast." Review and Herald, October 22, 1901.
In II Thessalonians 3:6, 14, Paul tells us, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. . . . And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." When you continue to go to a place where you know that error is steadily being preached and do nothing about it, what are you actually doing? You are encouraging the error.
The apostle John tells us, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for him that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." II John 9–11.
We need to avoid those people whose influence would lead us astray and corrupt our morals. "When those who are uniting with the world, yet claiming great purity, plead for union with those who have ever been the opposers of the cause of truth, we should fear and shun them as decidedly as did Nehemiah." Prophets and Kings, 660. Even in worship, you cannot unite with those whom God tells you not to unite with. There are only two camps—truth and error. We admonished, "Sever the links which have bound you to those who love not God and the truth." Testimonies, vol. 2, 48.
Peter was always outspoken. At one time he said to Jesus, "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Three; what shall we have therefore?" Matthew 19:27. Jesus did not rebuke him, but answered, "Verily, I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." Matthew 19:28, 29.
The bottom line is that in leaving all, we are not leaving or separating from anything that is good for us. And, if we are converted, we will want to do it anyway, because there are better things in store for us.
All May Have the Power to Overcome
I would like to share one more statement with you. "While Jesus was talking to the people, His mother and brethren, stood without, desiring to speak with Him; and one told Jesus. And He said unto him that told Him, ‘Who is My mother? and who are My brethren?’ And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, ‘Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.’" Review and Herald, August 7, 1888. She then goes on to say, "If we are doing the will of God, we are counted as the brethren and sisters of our Master. We are to remember this in our daily life. We are to press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling, exerting every God-given power, that we may be overcomers. We must be constantly drawing nigh to God. We must talk of Jesus, expressing His love in a devoted life of entire consecration to His service.
Right now there are many messages that, to the unregenerate heart, seem hard to listen to. It is far better, however, to hear a hard message right now while there is opportunity to turn around. This is not the time to celebrate, but rather the time to hear the hard messages. If we are unwilling to hear hard messages today, the day is coming when we will hear an even harder message from Jesus. "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Matthew 7:23. How much better to be able then to hear His commendation, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." Matthew 25:21. This is the message that I want to hear from Jesus. But the only way that I can hear this message is if I am willing to hear the straight, hard message today, because that is the message of love.
May God help us to have open hearts and minds that are not easily offended, because it says of those who love Jesus and obey His law, that nothing will offend them. May God help us that this is true in our lives.