Larry Kirkpatrick

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The Hope of Glory

Well, I hadn't planned on this, but on short notice I agreed to share this final sermon with you today. Since I've had little time to prepare, I am going to turn with you to but one key Scriptural passage and then one extended passage from Ellen G. White. I want that this message today shall be a real spiritual help to you, not just the filling in of a few minutes on a Sabbath morning. Turn with me to the book of Colossians, chapter one, verses 27-29 and read:

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

In His saints--His people--God wants to make known the riches of His gospel. As they mingle with those who know not God they may thus be surrounded by living embodiments of truth, humble little echoes of Jesus on the left and hand and on the right. Every life is a testimony, and heaven's plan for yours and for mine is to be flesh and blood advertisements for what His grace can do.

We cannot escape that part of our work is to warn every man, part of it is to teach every man. "That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Now be careful. This perfection Christ Jesus is much more than you've been led to believe. God's people will have strength from above to hold them steadfast. They "will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith."

Do you believe it?

God will, (He says so, not I) bring a people together in the end who are without fault before His throne, unblemished, pure-hearted and without guile. They will not be sinning in deed or thought. That is what is going to happen when Jesus is formed within.

How could it be anything else?

Insight from Beyond

Now I am going to tell you something. Probably the four most important books coming from the pen of Ellen White, were first, The Great Controversy, and then these three: Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and Christ's Object Lessons. All of them are wonderful and extreme in their helpfulness in living the Christian walk. But The Great Controversy marks out the ground we occupy prophetically, while the other books I mentioned do the same more closely in the area of our salvation understanding. And Steps to Christ is arguably the foremost of these.

The first time I read this book, it did little for me. I can't explain why. Since then it along with The Great Controversy and The Desire of Ages have doubtlessly become for me my most read books from her Spirit-inspired pen. Let me tell you that where the church has faced frontal attacks on its prophetic understanding it has actually done an acceptable job in defending the truth. I wish I could say the same for our understanding of salvation. Regretably, what is regularly published on the topic of salvation on our Presses is, much more often than not, utterly confused and inharmonizable with the writings of God's end-time messenger. So I am going to invest some serious time this morning with some of the points she has written in this book.

Pay close attention. Let's see whether she harmonizes with the Scriptures we looked at a moment ago.

The world's Redeemer accepts men as they are, with all their wants, imperfections, and weaknesses; and He will not only cleanse from sin and grant redemption through His blood, but will satisfy the heart-longing of all who consent to wear His yoke, to bear His burden. It is His purpose to impart peace and rest to all who come to Him for the bread of life. He requires us to perform only those duties that will lead our steps to heights of bliss to which the disobedient can never attain. The true, joyous life of the soul is to have Christ formed within, the hope of glory.

Many are inquiring, "How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?" You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.

Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.

Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith. (pp. 46-48).

He Accepts Us Where We Are, and Takes Us To Where We Weren't

Now let's go back through and consider some of those lines together. Consider the first line I shared: "The world's Redeemer accepts men as they are, with all their wants, imperfections, and weaknesses; and He will not only cleanse from sin and grant redemption through His blood, but will satisfy the heart-longing of all who consent to wear His yoke, to bear His burden."

Make no mistake, Jesus accepts everyone where they are when they come to Him. He knows everything that is lacking in their experience. He knows right where they are the weakest. But, praise God, "He will" what? "Not only cleanse from sin and grant redemption through His blood," but He'll do what? "Will satisfy the heart-longing of all who consent to wear His yoke, to bear His burden."

The gospel would be wonderful if all that it contained was cleansing from sin. What an all that would be! Cleansing from sin! How we long for that! Oh, how we musat have it, we desire it and dream of it. We rejoice in the work that is going forward in us, unworthy and spiritually flabby as we are, Jesus saves, and He saves to the Uttermost.

But He refused, yes, refused to stop here. Amazing.

"He will not only cleanse from sin and grant redemption through His blood, but will satisfy the heart-longing of all who consent to wear His yoke, to bear His burden." He buys us back. He cleanses us entirely of sin. But then He goes further yet. He refuses to stop short of offering us, making available to us His presence, His strength to overcome, so that he satisfies the heart-longing of His children when they but consent to receive His gospel.

How fearful is the situation we are now in. Books of a strange order are being published teaching all manner of questionable salvation-understanding. But we have it put plainly here: the gospel has conditions. But there is nothing wrong with this. It's nothing new at all. What did Paul say in one place in the New Testament? He spoke of God's working, which he said, "worketh in me mightily." But it was a cooperative work, in which Paul agreed to go God's way, He consented to let His will be empowered for obedience, and then God gave the power. The same plan is ready for our participation right now.

Ellen White had more to say. The next lines read: "It is His purpose to impart peace and rest to all who come to Him for the bread of life. He requires us to perform only those duties that will lead our steps to heights of bliss to which the disobedient can never attain. The true, joyous life of the soul is to have Christ formed within, the hope of glory."

Are we coming to Jesus today for the bread of life, or for the bread of death but we want Him to sign for it? Christians today are doing many strange things in the name of their Savior. But the Lord foresaw this, and warned in Matthew 7:21-23 that in the end He would have to tell many expectant workers, "I never knew you." When she says "He requires us to perform only . . ." we notice that in fact, we are required to perform. Not to provide meritorious material for our salvation, for Jesus has done that, but to make it possible for Him to do His work of saving us. "The true joyous life of the soul is to have Christ formed within, the hope of glory."

It sounds like a time-consuming process, this forming of Christ within. Character is shaped over time; it is not microwaved. God help us to let Jesus reproduce His character in us, to form Him within.

Making the Weak Strong

That's all fine and good you say, but how? I feel weak in moral power. I've tried to obey before over and over yet failed. Is there any hope for me? I think so. I found hope here. because one day I was reading this and I came to exactly this part. And I listened as God spoke to me, identified absolutely plainly. This was my experience exactly: "'Many are inquiring, "How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?' You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is . . ."

Sorry. That's not a fair place to stop, is it? I know. It's cruel. But let's come to a clear point. It is this: God is, through His servant Mrs. White, about to tell us here exactly what we need to understand. There is something, then, that we need to understand. Our understanding and application of this point is going to be the dividing line for many of us, between eternal life, and eternal, death. Does God have your attention?

What we "need to understand is the true force of the will." Listen to her explanation: "This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise."

Consider well the words she has chosen as a vehicle for the ideas: "need," "governing power," "everything depends on," "The power of choice God has given to men. It is theirs to exercise." Here then is something at once, critical, necessary, universal, and by God's grace, ours thanks to Christ.

Was this element of our being unaffected by the fall? Oh yes it was. Little about us was unaffected by the fall. But notice that even with that stark and grim fact, inspiration says "The power of choice God has given to men. It is theirs to exercise." Surely our capacity to rightly choose did not escape impact, but just as surely is it true that we are moral beings, made in the image of God. Our fall has been very great, for being made in God's image is a very dizzying height from which to fall. But even as affected as we are, the power to choose remains our own. It is ours to exercise.

The Governing Power Meets the All-Powerful Hand of Help

Yes, we still can choose. We still can choose God. But what we can't do is obey in our strength. After the fall we have not within ourselves the moral strength to resist the inclination toward evil. Listen: "You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him."

We can't lift the weight. But we can choose to lift the weight and be helped by God. We can't obey. But we can choose to obey and be helped by God. We come to wrestle with Satan all bleeding and bruised, limbs bent and broken, in no shape for a life or death contest. But we may choose to prevail through the strength that God provides. Remember, the Bible says that we wrestle, but not against flesh and blood. We are up against wicked beings, superior in strength and cunning. But not superior to our great Helper Jesus Christ. But Jesus came to fight in our flesh. He came from heaven to destroy the works of Satan. If we put our will on His side He will. Then what He came to do is made effective through us.

See, somehow we've got the idea that the battlefield was the cross. But isn't the question really how deeply the cross is planted within us? Do we have Christ formed within, the hope of glory? The battlefield is your soul. The cross must be planted firmly there or we shall fail of eternal life. We have to let He who formed man of the dust of the ground and put into his nostrils the breath of life form Christ within us. Again, the dust of the ground, which Jesus Christ assumed and bore to the cross, and the breath of life from God, His Spirit working in and through us, must do their heroism and repair work within us. And God will be glorified!

Power From Above

Mrs. White closes her remarks with the following: "Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians. Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith."

Everyone in here wants to be a Christian. But if we stop there, even with those precious desires, "they will avail nothing." It is one thing to desire something, but another to yield our will to God. Precisely where they fail is that "They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians." O my brothers and sisters: have you yielded your will to Jesus? Do you now choose to become Christians? No--you can't obey on your own; you haven't the power. But Jesus does. And you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Remember, "Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast."

Do you want an entire change to be made in your life? Then you must take Jesus up on His offer. You must yield up your will to Him. Then you will have an ally. Not just any ally, but Jesus the Christ for your ally! Your power is below principalities and powers, but His is above them. Above them all. To us all then comes the mighty promise: "You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast."

Do you believe it? Do you believe that Jesus wants to live inside of you? If you but let Him, then "You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast." With that strength and it alone, you will become like Him.

And one day soon see Him as He is.

Oh my brothers and my sisters, hear the voice of Jesus in this message today. Give Him all that you have and are, and let Him purify it, and grant you that peace you've longed for. And make you a power in His army to spread on to others this work of the Holy Spirit, who makes clay into effective workers for Jesus at time's end. May God bless you all every one. And may we embrace one day soon in His kingdom "when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe" (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Amen.


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Price UT SDA 2001-06-30