Salvation

Salvation

Scripture: John 3:16, Luke 18:9-14, Matthew 20:28
Date: 07/26/2014  Lesson: 4
"The Bible is clear. We have only two choices regarding our sins: either we pay for our sins in the lake of fire, or we accept Christ's payment for them on the cross."

El Camino a Cristo by Ellen White

El Camino a Cristo by Ellen White
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Welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are so glad that you're tuning in, whether you're listening on the radio, watching live on our website at 'saccentral.org' or on the various television networks. From across the country and around the world we know that you are joining with us and we're so excited to sing songs and open up God's Word together and today is no exception. We're going to continue singing through the hymnal and first we're going to sing a good old favorite, 'will your anchor hold?' - So turn with us - #534 - first and fifth. Thank you so much for that request.

And if you have a favorite that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming program, it's very, very simple. You just go to our website at 'saccentral.org', you click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in any song that is right here in the seventh-day adventist hymnal and we will do our best to sing that for you on an upcoming program. Father in Heaven, it is your grace and your mercy that we are so thankful for today. Thank you so much for loving us, for showering us with blessings that we don't deserve, but we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. I pray you be with us as we open up Your Word and we study together today.

Please be with our speaker and our extended family around the world. Be with each one. We look forward to meeting each other on the sea of glass and the streets of gold. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by pastor mike thompson.

He is our health and visitation pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you very much everybody and good to see you all. Thank you Michael. We're blessed indeed, aren't we, to be able to sit here today in the house of God and be able to open His Word and not get thrown in jail. Things may change.

But it's still a great place to live. We won't be here long because Jesus is coming soon. But I'd still rather live here in the good old United States than a lot of other places, even though I came from england. Anyway, today there's a special offer - offer #109 - and if you call 866-788-3966 or -study-more, Amazing Facts will send this to you free. It's actually lesson #3 in their Bible study guides.

It's called 'rescue from above'. It's a very basic, fundamental - but it's a ground floor foundation of what it means to be a Christian. Do you know Jesus? Do you know why he came? What he did when he was here? What is he doing now? And above all else, how can Jesus live in your hearts because you can see him in a stained glass window in many old churches, especially in europe, but he needs to be inside, right? So this is a very good little lesson. They'll send it to you free and we'll give you the number again at the end, before we conclude today. And we're looking at lesson number - the weeks fly - lesson #4.

It's called 'salvation' - one word but it's actually loaded with meaning. There is a memory verse. It's one that should be well known to all of us - John 3:16 - it says, "for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." And in the introduction on the first page, which is like for Sabbath afternoon review, I'm going to read the last paragraph just as an intro to the rest of the material. It says, "this week we will consider Jesus' saving work. First, our attention will focus on the basis of our salvation and later on the results of it.

The Bible is clear. We have only two choices regarding our sins. Either we pay for our sins in the lake of fire or we accept Christ's payment for them on the cross." And I don't have to ask you which you would prefer, I'm sure. As we review the generous gift of God's grace through Christ, let us, once again, humbly renew our faith in Jesus as our personal Savior. So I want to begin.

I want to begin in Sunday's lesson here and the title is a subtitle: 'salvation is a gift from God.' And our memory verse, which we just read, 'for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.' Hopefully this verse will help us to grasp something which we really need to grasp from the get-go here; something very profound and important about God and his love toward us. It is because God already loved us and loves us that he gave Jesus to die for us in the first place. He gave his son. And I say that because some people and I think, honestly, I can honestly say I've been there in the past so I'll speak for myself. I kind of had the idea, somehow, that God loves me so much because Jesus came and Jesus died for me so I'm kind of worth a lot more now.

Some of you may have had that thought in your mind. It's because God already loved you infinitely that Jesus came. It's important that we grasp that. And that's a wonderful, wonderful truth. But, in turn, our ability to respond to this amazing, mysterious, fathomless ocean of divine love - our ability to respond to that gift of salvation - it can really only be in proportion to the measure of our understanding and our ability to grasp and comprehend that.

Does that kind of make sense? The more you appreciate something, the more you can give, hopefully, a bigger 'thank you'. But how do you, kind of, quantify something which is abstract, like love, you know? I was wondering the other week, you know, how big is a trillion dollars? You hear about the debt - so I went on the internet and lo and behold a trillion dollars illustration - bang - there it is an illustration of a trillion dollars. It shows you in one hundred dollar bills - if you had pallets - two pallets high - six foot - and there's a picture of a little guy and there's this huge block of pallets - bigger than costco warehouse. I thought, 'that's how big a trillion dollars is. And I think we're only 17 trillion in debt, right? But anyway, but nonetheless my little mind was able to grasp that.

But how do you quantify something like love? Even human love - it's hard to put it in a box. 'Oh, I see how big it is.' Now it's something you can experience but if human love is hard enough to kind of quantify, how do you quantify divine love? Especially - I mean, even angels can't grasp it fully. You read in 'Desire of Ages' that even angels - the cross will be the science of the angels throughout all eternity. So how do we, in our fallen state, with these tiny little crummy dark minds - how can we possibly grasp it? Michael, I don't know about you, but I don't get very far. So we have to have some help.

That's reasonable, right? We've got to have some help. 'Lord, I have to tell you I think it's wonderful that Jesus loves me this I know 'cause the Bible tells me so.' But I just don't really understand how big that is so we need some help. And God will give us help. So that even in this life - even in this life - as far as it is humanly possible, we will be able to grasp the length, the breadth, the depth and the height of the love of God that was all packaged, if I can use that cheap term, in the giving of the gift of a Savior who poured himself out on a cross and even then, in this life, at best we're just scratching the surface. So God will give us help if we ask him.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 9 and 10, there's a verse here - it's really a principle that, I believe, we can apply to this ability to have God help us understand something that is far beyond us. It says, "eye hath not seen nor ear heard" - you know this - "neither have entered into the heart of men the things which God has prepared for them that love him." But what does the next verse say? "But God hath revealed them unto us by his spirit." And I believe we can take this - the principle applies - and say, 'Lord, you reveal certain things to me through your spirit. I really want to get a bigger grasp of how great is this gift of salvation. Show me through your spirit' and God will do that. I really believe that.

This wondrous mystery. It'll start to unfold to us. But we do have a part to play. We can't just sit there and say, 'Lord, let's put a dvd in the machine and let me just sit back, you know, with some popcorn and watch this whole thing. No, we have a part to play.

We have an investment. We have to invest our time. 'Oh, but I'm busy.' Well, how much is eternal life worth to you. 'Okay Lord, I think I have the time. We have to invest the time - the prime time - at the beginning of the day when every voice is hushed, hopefully.

Now, I know if you have kids I know it's difficult. We raised two. I know it's hard. But somewhere, somehow, God will help you find some time in your day when you can go aside and spend that time and invest that time totally there to say, 'Lord, I'm here. I'm here to contemplate and to think and to ponder.

So we need to invest that time. We need to invest our heart and meet with God daily in the garden of Gethsemane. He'll be there waiting. In fact, he'll lead you there. You've got to somehow make time to meet with God by the cross.

Just you and God and Jesus. You say, 'father, help me understand.' He'll put his arm around you and say, 'well, listen to me.' And he'll explain it to you. And it's in those sublime moments and I know there's those of you sitting in here that are trying to grasp this and I know some of you well enough that you know exactly what I'm going to talk about. It's in those moments where suddenly as you kind of become lost in prayer. The Holy Spirit comes - and I've experienced this and I'm just an ordinary person.

I've experienced this where certainly you don't see lights flash. You don't hear bells ring, but suddenly it's like your mind is able to suddenly grasp things as the Holy Spirit reveals to you the wonder of God's love and salvation. And the cross - everything takes on a clarity and suddenly in your heart and your mind it's like, 'oh, I see it Lord.' It's an amazing experience. Even then we're just scratching the surface, but what we see is so big but there's so much left in store for us to ponder through all eternity. But God will reveal that to us in a most mysterious and wondrous way.

And this is where we start. We've got to start grasping the dimensions and it will enlarge our perceptions and our abilities to understand. In Friday's section I'm going to read one little passage here and - actually, they're both from 'Desire of Ages' - page 661 - but there - if you go to Friday's section, first statement there from 'desire of ages' this applies to our ability to comprehend. It says, "looking upon the crucified redeemer we more fully comprehend" - comprehend, you see - "the magnitude and meaning of the sacrifice made by the majesty of heaven" - the majesty - the majesty of heaven - for you. 'Just me, Lord? I'm just a little shrimp and you're the majesty of heaven.

' 'Yes, but this sacrifice was made for you.' When you grasp that, it does something to you. And that something it does, we'll look at in the next section. It says, "the plan of salvation is glorified before us. It lights up and the thought of calvary awakens living and sacred emotions in our hearts. Praise to God and the lamb will be on our hearts and on our lips.

" I'm going to read this. It says, "for pride and self-worship cannot flourish in the soul that keeps fresh in memory the scenes of calvary." Especially when those scenes come home and they become real. So real that you don't want to stop praying. So real that you don't even want to think of saying, 'amen' and getting in your car and going out. You just want to stay there.

That's the experience God wants us to have and it's waiting for us. Anyway, I have to move on. Every little section is like a - it's like a sermon in itself. But God is waiting for those times when our hearts can burn within us as the plan of salvation is open to our mind through the Holy Spirit. Okay Monday's section 'God's initiative' - and I'm going to read from John 6, verse 44.

Jesus said, "no man can come to me, except The Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." I want us to grasp this picture if we can. What is Jesus saying here? He says, 'no man can come to me' - the point is we don't have the desire to come to him and we'll look at that - 'no man can come to me except The Father which hath sent me draw him:' so there is some drawing here on God's part. He has taken the initiative that we might be attracted to him. So we see this picture - actually, our God seeks us - we often - and I've said this before, I'll say it again, sometimes we get a desire to pray and we think, 'oh, I came up with that thought.' We kind of take credit for it. 'Oh, I'm so spiritual I came up with this thought of going to pray.

' No you didn't. Don't lie. It was God that put that in your heart, not you. It's God calling you. And so be encouraged: if you think you're lost in sin but you get these little sparks, 'oh I'd love to go to church.

Oh, I'd love to read my Bible. I'd love to pray but God won't accept me.' That is God already calling you saying, 'come on, I want you back.' So when we see this picture of how earnestly God is so extravagantly in his unquenchable love poured out - that this love offering - this gift, by ultimately sending his son to be the means of our salvation and at the same time of wooing us - drawing us into his arms. We need to see that picture. Ladies, did your husband - before you got married and hopefully even afterwards - did he woo you? Do you know what it is to be wooed? Diana's smiling. That's a good sign.

Men, have you ever been - has a lady ever wooed you? Do you know what that means? It means you look and, hopefully, you see something beautiful and she should be beautiful. But it's not just her beauty. There's a personality. There's a sound of a voice. Just that little laugh, you know? Those little things.

I won't get too carried away here but those things - and it just steals your heart. My wife did that to me forty-something years ago. And you know, she still does. I've got my little names for her. I'm not going to tell them here, she'd kill me.

But it's all part - the wooing experience should continue. And what God does is he woos us, you see, he took the initiative. Why did he take the initiative? Because our hearts are so hard, so insensitive, so unfeeling, that left to ourselves we'd just be like a rock. Have you ever tried to woo a rock? Well, you could get an illustration there, I suppose. I'm sure there's some men you've been in love with a lady and it's like trying to woo a rock.

Not that she's not nice, but she just doesn't love you, okay? But God - God woos us. So let's take that picture then contrast that picture of God wooing us with the picture of how we are. We do not naturally seek him. I already said that. It's just not - we do not naturally - we're not naturally spiritual beings.

We don't go looking for God. Because here's the thing, you see, actually let me read you this here - in Romans 3:10 and it says, "as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one:" - Paul, here, is quoting from Isaiah and he continues -"there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." Because it's just the way - it's the effects of sin, you see. Before adam sinned he was just like that with God, naturally, 'oh, God, I love you.' And there was a seeking in both directions. But because of sin, which is not just an act - well, sin is an act of rebellion but it has this woeful effect upon us. It darkens the mind.

It robs us of our ability to discern and understand spiritual things, which is what we looked at in the first part, and it distorts and corrupts and destroys every good picture of God so that we see God, if we see him at all, as nothing to be desired and he is nothing to be sought after. That's what sin does and that's why we're like we are. And then on top of that, satan takes advantage of our fallen state - of our fallen humanity - and he goes and he bombards the senses to alienate us even further from God because he doesn't want us connecting. He wants God to remain totally undesirable and ugly in our eyes. And he's so successful with so many people.

Mike, can I have my book please? Thank you. I want to read from 'desire of ages'. This is the chapter 'the fullness of time' and we're looking here 2,000 years ago. This was the state of humanity. Even God's people - this was the state of God's people just at the time when Jesus came.

And then we wonder why it is nobody seeks after God. It says, "the deception of sin had reached its height" - desire of ages' - page 36 going on to - it's a paragraph about this big so I hope you'll bear with me. "The deception of sin had reached its height. All the agencies for the depraving of the souls of men had been put in operation. The Son of God, looking upon the world, beheld suffering and misery with pity.

He saw how men had become victims of satanic cruelty. He looked with compassion upon those who had been corrupted, murdered, and lost. They had chosen a ruler who chained them to his car as captives. Bewildered and deceived they were moving on in gloomy procession toward eternal ruin. To death in which is no hope of life.

Toward night to which comes no morning." - Just get this here - "satanic agencies were incorporated with men. The bodies of human beings, made for the dwelling place of God had become the habitation of demons. The senses, the nerves, the passions, the organs of men were worked by supernatural agencies in the indulgences of vilest lust." Is anything new? It's like that today, isn't it? And then we wonder - what does it say? 'There is none that understandeth; there is none that seeketh after God.' Because we're so vile. "The very stamp of demons was impressed upon the countenances of men. Human faces reflected the expression of the legions of angels with which they were possessed" - evil angels - "such was the prospect upon which the world's redeemer looked.

What a spectacle for infinite purity to behold." - Going down to this darkened planet where nobody even desired you - "sin had become a science and vice was consecrated as a part of religion. Rebellion had struck its root deep into the heart and the hostility of men was most violent against heaven. It was demonstrated before the universe that apart from God, humanity could not be uplifted." That's exactly the point here. God had to take the initiative and he did. Last sentence: "a new element of life and power must be imparted by him who made the world.

" Thank you Michael. And that new element was what? It was the coming of Jesus. That new element - God took that initiative and Jesus came down here. And then we had that wondrous greater unfolding of the love of God. Those who looked upon him saw this mystery unfolded and yet some could look upon him and just turn away and go the other direction.

I have to ask you today: what is your greatest desire in life? You don't have to answer me verbally - just in your own heart. What is your greatest desire? Is it to make this world your home? Because the more you make this world your home, the less desirable Jesus will look and the less you'll want to seek after him. Or do you want a home outside of this world where there's no more tempter - no more sin. You can wake up - if you decide you want to sleep - and you're just naturally like that with God. I want that.

If that's what you want - if that's what you want, then you can have that no matter how fallen you are. If that's what you want then you're the kind of person who looks at Jesus and you see that beauty and you say, 'I want that. I want to seek after that.' Well you can, but you don't have to look too far because he already sought you first. He's right there. He's already got his hand out.

But what a wonderful gift - that new element in Jesus Christ. And so, while we had neither the strength, nor desire, God took the initiative to seek us and to save us in Christ his son. Romans 5:8 says, "but God commendeth his love toward us, in that," - what does it say? - "While we were yet sinners," - he took the initiative while we were sinners - while we were enemies - God took the initiative and "Christ died for us." And in Romans 5, verse 10, "...when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son." - Why? Because while we were enemies, God took the initiative and sent Jesus. And then, as we - in the first part we looked at how we could start seeing more, intellectually, if you like, with the mind's eye, the wonder of God's love. It will reveal it to us.

But then, as we go to the cross, we get that vision but not just more - then it starts doing something inside here and here's where something needs to change and take place and it is the daily contemplation of God's great sacrifice, made for us when we deserved it the least - when we were still enemies - when we were alienated from him - it is this that wondrously and mysteriously draws us to Jesus. He says, in John 12, he says, "and i, if I be lifted up from the earth" - he means when he's lifted up on a cross. He said, "I will draw all men unto me." What did he mean? He said - Jesus meant, 'if you will go to calvary in your mind's eye and you see me on that cross and you will stay there and you will pray that prayer, 'father, help me to understand what am I looking at here?' 'My father will help you to see who I am and what I've done and i, in turn, I will draw you.' Does it work? You bet it works. I was listening to a man on the radio a couple of days ago, who had been in a prisoner of war camp during the second world war. And his captor - one of his captors was just a psychopath - cruel man - cruel.

Long story short, the war ended and this man came home. He's an old man now. He was being interviewed about his experience and the interviewer said, 'well, tell me how you felt about your captor. Did you forgive him?' And he said, 'oh yeah.' He said - and he just started describing his conversion experience - he said, 'I got on my knees' - he said - 'and I prayed to God' - and he said - 'I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.' This must have been actually just after the war - a couple of years after the war - he said he came in and he said, 'I thought about this captor' and he said, 'the forgiveness, it just flowed into me.' - He said - 'I didn't hate him anymore.' He said, 'yeah, sure I forgave him.' - He says, 'in that first night after this conversion experience - for the first night in two years - I never had a nightmare and I've never had any since.' So when Jesus draws you he does something. Something very, very, very, very wonderful and hearts once hardened in sin, defiant, rebellious, indifferent, become broken, melted, and actually sorrowful.

For sinners the warm sweet fragrant love of Jesus invades to conquer, to convert and set free the heart once bound in evil to the power of satan. That is conversion. You don't bring that about and neither do i, but I know somebody who does it and that's God. There's a second statement from 'Desire of Ages' - the first one was how we can kind of understand it, the second one is how it affects it once we do understand it. This is in Friday's section, "he who beholds the Savior's matchless love will be elevated in thought, purified in heart, transformed in character.

" That's what you call conversion. And who does it? God does it. But you have to invest that time and go and receive it and you shall, indeed. So let us, indeed, thank God. For if he had not taken the initiative to seek us first, we would never have received the incentive, in turn, to seek him and find salvation in return.

Okay, I want to move on to Tuesday. 'The required death' - some things in life are required and as far as sin is concerned, death is required. So either you, for your sins or Jesus dying for you. It's just a given. That's why it says in Romans 6, verse 23, "the wages of sin is death.

" Right? The wages of sin is death. And God made this very clear right from the beginning when he declared to adam and eve there in the Garden of Eden, 'if you eat this fruit you shall surely die. Well, we know what happened, of course, they did - they did eat the fruit. Adam and eve both sinned and the moment they did, divine justice demanded their lives. It was a requirement.

Done. Required. And the death of the offender became the required punishment for breaking God's sacred and holy law. And this very somber and cardinal truth was depicted time after time for hundreds of years from when God first sacrificed for adam and eve that first victim - that innocent lamb or whatever it was there, right? For all those hundreds of years through the time of Abraham, the patriarchs, through the time of the Kings and the building of the temple - Solomon's time - right up - all those - right through the time of Jesus on the cross, this whole thing that death is the required consequence of sin was seen every time those innocent animals were slain upon the altar. But there, finally, there finally came the fulfillment of what those symbols represented.

There at calvary type met antitype and, again, there again, there was this picture shown of two things - two things were shown at calvary: how bad is sin and how good is God? First of all, how bad is sin? It was shown that sin is so bad that the only way that even God - even God and Jesus Christ could save us was to suffer and die through the most unimaginable means. Not just the physical things - I think it was last time we were talking about this - there was the wrath of God and the remorse and guilt that Jesus felt. There were layers of sufferings. He went through all this. It was just terrible but that's the price he had to pay.

And when you understand that - when you go to the cross and you say, 'Lord, help me understand.' You start seeing these sufferings and then you see how bad is sin. It is awful, friends. Now our problem is we love it so much - we have so much sympathy for evil. We do. We're so quick to feel sorry for it.

It's a dastardly thing. But it's only at the cross you'll learn to hate it and it's only at the cross you'll receive the power to fight against it and to tread it down. That's why Jesus said, 'if I'm lifted up.' It all starts right there at the cross. But while, again, I say we see how bad is sin and the required sufferings and the death of Jesus, we also see how good is God toward us in the fact that God so loved the world he gave - he gave. And the world - the Bible tells us that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

So Jesus was not some remotely controlled thing on God's part while God sat on the throne with his, you know, doing his thing here and Jesus was doing his stuff down there. 'How's it going son?' 'It's a bit rough today.' 'Okay, I'm watching you. Hang in.' God was in Christ reconciling the world unto him. What Jesus felt, God felt. But he gave him nonetheless because he loves us.

It just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? He did it because he loves us. Until we grasp how much he loves us, we won't love him as we should. But we can. We can. Matthew 20, verse 28, "even as The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

" He came. When Jesus came he didn't come expecting accolades. He knew he'd get no praise. He knew what he was coming for but he came because he loves us. He gave himself.

And in John 10 - we have another verse here - John 10, verse 11, Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." A good shepherd. It's so easy, in a superficial way, to think of a shepherd, 'oh that's nice - with his sheep. And that's cute. See the little lamb skipping behind.' But understand what kind of a shepherd this is and what kind of a sheep we are. We're a nasty little bunch but he came and he poured himself out because he loves us.

I don't understand that but I'm working on it. And he reveals it to me. I'm not there yet but he loves me. And though I might not be able, at this point, to plumb any deeper the depths and the understanding of that mysterious love of God, I believe it and I'm thankful for it because I know I have a Father in Heaven who cares for me. Even when I fall he doesn't cast me off.

Do I hurt him when I do it? Yeah, sure I hurt him. And I want to feel bad every time I sin. But I know he doesn't cast me off. He puts his hand down, 'Michael.' 'Yes.' 'I saw it.' 'I know you did, Lord.' 'Come on son, let's go.' 'I'm sorry, Lord.' 'I forgive you.' 'Did I hurt you?' 'Well, you know you hurt me. Sure it hurts me.

I've never gotten used to sin but I still love you. So come on. Let's go.' So you go. He's the best friend you'll ever have. And so Jesus said, 'I'm the good shepherd.

The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.' And so God gave and Jesus also permitted himself to be given to us as a sacrifice - something we don't deserve but we got it. I was talking about this just this last Tuesday down at the jail - just down there at 'i' street and I went in there and this week there was - through the glass on the other part - there was the world cup and I thought, 'oh no.' And the tv was on loud and I'm thinking, 'I've got to tell these people about Jesus and the world cup's blazing away on this television here and - but anyway, these gentlemen came out. There were 25 of them. They sat around and - I just love those men. I mean, I really do.

You look in some of those faces - you look in all of those faces and some have probably done some bad stuff. There's probably some people that hate them. That's why they're locked up. But, you know, I'm glad I don't know what they've done because I can come in and I can love them and I know that God loves them. But these men are sitting there and I start telling the story about the lost coin and the lost sheep and there's the world cup playing.

And, you know, some weeks, some of them their eyes are riveted - most of them are watching you. Sometimes you see them wandering around - they're just glad to be out of their cell and you know who they are. But we started talking about the crucifixion - about what it was actually like. And over in one corner there's a couple of guys - they wouldn't come in our group. They'd be over there, you know, doing their push ups and this kind of stuff and they're all tattooed all over the place - just tough guys - and they do their own thing but even they drifted over.

It's nothing I was doing. I was just talking about the cross. But I started talking about that cross. I said, 'you know, it wasn't anything smoothly planed and varnished.' I said they got a couple of big tree trunks and they just hacked out that upright and they got that crossbar and they just tied it on there. And I said they brought Jesus to be crucified and I said, 'there were those roman guards - those tough roman marines' - I said - 'they were 20-year veterans.

They'd been in war after war after war. They were just hard.' And I said, 'when men came to be executed - especially crucified - nobody wanted it so men would struggle for their lives.' And I said, 'those big, tough marines' - roman marines - I said 'they were standing by ready to grab Jesus and get him down on that floor, put their knees in his shoulders and on his arms - pin him down and just bang those nails in. They were ready. That's what usually happened. These men were sitting there - even the big guys, all tattooed - they were listening and I said, 'you know what?' I said, 'Jesus came and there was that cross - that horrible looking thing.

' I said, 'then Jesus came' and I said 'he just laid down. He just laid down on the cross, put his arms out. The other arm. Put his feet down. Not a word.

I said, 'those soldiers are getting ready to wrestle him down but he just laid down.' And I'm watching these men. Then they put his arm out and one came with a hammer and nails and bang. I said, 'did he scream?' Not a word. I said, 'then the other arm - bang! Did it hurt?' 'Yes.' 'Did he scream?' Not a word. And I was telling them - I mean, it's only what I've read in 'Desire of Ages.

' It's all right there. I said, 'those strong guys, they got that cross and they lifted it up and they dropped it down into that socket in the earth - boom!' And Jesus was hanging on those nails. And these men were watching. I kid you not, it was a very powerful, powerful moment. I was telling our staff earlier this week.

There's melissa over there. It was a powerful moment. It was these big tough guys. You know what? When people get a glimpse of Jesus - I don't care how tough they are - you see behind all those tattoos and that tough exterior there's a heart there. No matter how hard it might be at this point, it can be softened and it can be broken.

And I saw some of that. And so we went through this whole scenario and, you know, the world cup was playing - I never heard it. I could tell by looking at their faces, neither did they. It's a powerful, powerful thing and we should, indeed, marvel that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. And I want to conclude this little bit here - I kind of lost myself a bit there but - finally, I want to go to Isaiah 53, verse 7 - Isaiah 53, verse 7 - Jesus accepted this and he came down and he came down so uncomplainingly knowing how he would be treated as he came to die this required death for us.

But he didn't complain in heaven and he didn't complain when he got down here. Isaiah 53, verse 7, it says, "he was oppressed and he was afflicted yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." Isn't that something? Not a word. Not a peep. Not a swear word. Not a curse.

Quietly he comes to pay the required price so that you and I could have salvation. Are you thankful this morning? Are you thankful or what? As they say. 'Free from sin' - we're going to read from John chapter 8 - John , verses 34 through 36 - John :34 - 36, "Jesus answered them, 'verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but The Son abideth ever. If The Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

'" We're on about freedom here from sin and John chapter 8 teaches a very important truth about servanthood and freedom and here it is in this passage and if we get time, I want to go across to another earlier part in the passage and you'll see how there's a dovetailing of two or three other verses that dovetail with these in verses 34 and 36. So it teaches a very important lesson about servanthood and freedom. In John 8, verse 34, as we just read, Jesus said, "verily, verily I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." So whoever - if you sin, you're a servant of sin. Simple as that. Paul also repeated this truth in Romans 6, verse 16.

He says, "know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or" - the other side of the coin - "of obedience unto righteousness?" We're not servants of both, we're servants of one or the other - either servants of sin or servants of righteousness. There's no middle ground. There's no switzerland - you've heard that term before. And in the issue of the great controversy and the working out of our own eternal salvation, we cannot function as independent agents. We're on one side or the other.

There's no neutral place. Jesus said, 'he who is not with me is' - what?" 'Is against me.' That's right. So we align our loyalties with either Christ or satan and ultimately receive the corresponding reward of eternal life or eternal death. So the only right and the only safe thing for any of us then, is to seek freedom from the servanthood to sin. Would you agree? That makes sense, right? We need to be free from sin.

And that can only be realized through the freedom and deliverance that Jesus alone can bring to us as we receive him into our lives. And we've been talking about this already this morning. That's why he said, 'if The Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.' Now I want us to understand something very significant here and important - what Jesus is speaking about in this passage - he's making the point that he is able to make us free - when he says 'free from sin' - from the very practice of sin. Not just free from the guilt of sin. In other words, sin and live theology - that kind of a thing.

'We'll keep sinning until Jesus comes. Jesus will just set me free from the condemnation of sin while I'm still committing it.' No, it's not teaching that at all. So we need to understand where Jesus is going here with this. And it is only as we enter this experience that he offers and that he's talking about - 'I will set you free, indeed.' It's only as we enter into this experience, through grace alone, that we'll be able to go to live in heaven with him. Because it says here, 'those who continue in sin, continue to remain the servants of sin.

' And as Jesus said in chapter 8, verse 35, such a servant "abideth not in the house for ever." So you can't go to heaven and live in God's house if you're a servant of sin. You have to become a servant of righteousness. Did I explain that clear enough? Okay. Now somebody might ask, 'pastor mike, why do you always keep making - why do you always keep going on about this - about victory over sin? About we have to overcome it through faith in Christ.' I'll give you the short answer for that - it's because that's what the Bible teaches and I want to teach the Bible. And I teach this because there is a different Gospel out there as you know too well.

We've mentioned this many times from the pulpit, when it's up here during the church service and even down here during the Sabbath school. There's other versions of the Gospel out there and one that is not in accordance with what Jesus is saying here in John 8. When The Son makes you free from the very practice of sin, you shall be free indeed. There are deadly consequences to accepting the other version of the Gospel, which is not in the Word of God and Jesus never taught it. In John 8:36, which I just read, Jesus said he's the one who can make you free, indeed.

John 8:36 - Jesus is the one who can make you free indeed - from sin. Now if you look in John 8:31, he's also contrasting those who are free - who he'll make, indeed, free from sin with those who are his disciples indeed. Not trying to play on words here, but these two 'indeeds' go together and I want us to notice this. :31, Jesus said - "then said Jesus to those jews which believed on him, 'if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.'" 'If you are my disciples indeed' in verse 31 - verse 36 'then I will set you free from sin, indeed.' So there's not a question here. Jesus' disciples, he says, are - verse 31 - "then said Jesus to those jews which believed on him, 'if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.

'" Jesus' disciples are those who continue in His Word. And for us to remain his disciples - and I trust we want to be his disciples, it's imperative that we continue in the Word of God - in the word of Christ that was given to us in the early days of the establishment of this movement - the Seventh-day Adventist Church - and it's only as we continue in the truth of the sanctuary and the third angels' messages and these things, that God has given to us, will we continue to be his true disciples as we continue to walk in the light and only as we do that will we then, ultimately, be free from sin this side of the second coming of Jesus. Do you get the point? Because there are those - and I know they mean well - very nice people - pray for them - very kind people - but there's a lot they don't get it. They imbibe these catholic and evangelical ideas of the Gospel and it gets them off track to the Gospel here that Jesus is preaching - 'I will set you free from the very practice of sin this side of my second coming.' They get side-tracked and they're bringing these other things and a different definition of sin and, you know, Jesus will save you in your sin. That is a lie.

We can't afford to go down that path. We have to continue in His Word. If you imbibe these other things it does two things, actually. It skews our understanding of God's last message to laodicea and we're told in 'testimonies' that the message to laodicea - the destiny of the church hangs upon the reception of the message to laodicea, which is from Revelation 3, which is the last church in the seven churches of Revelation, and every one of those - the theme - the ultimate theme - the ultimate bottom line is to be an overcomer, right? And to laodicea - and to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne even as I also overcame and have sat down with my father on his throne. We must continue in His Word and understand we must be overcomers and he says here in John he says, 'I tell you if The Son therefore shall set you free, you shall be free indeed.

' So if we go on this other track we get a skewed understanding of the doctrine to laodicea - that's God's last message to us. And then how, in turn, will that affect God's messages that he's given us to give to the world, that is, the third angel's message that goes down the tubes as well. I have to leave it there. But what was the theme on Wednesday? 'Free from sin.' One statement in 'the Spirit of prophecy' - I don't have the reference but it says, 'those who do not have faith enough to believe that Jesus can keep them from sin will not have a place in the kingdom of God. If you want to e-mail me I'll find it for you and I'll send it to you.

Okay, our time is gone. We have to close. I thank you for your participation. Every day we make hundreds of decisions. Sometimes these choices are mundane.

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And then the logo pops across - Amazing Facts presents. I've listened to a lot of different ministers, but he was - this was the first time that he's actually saying something where I had to grab my Bible and actually pick it up - and I've never heard this before let me - let me look through and find this. I just couldn't get enough. And so I started doing Bible studies. Every single one of these guys started being changed - including myself.

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