Lou: This is a bit of a footnote, but someone raised a question about the story of the woman taken in adultery (John 8:3-11). She said that she had tried to find it in her Bible and it wasn’t there. Why is that?
Graham: That would be a serious loss. It’s one of the greatest stories in the Bible and absolutely unique. But it’s actually missing in the earliest manuscripts. When it does appear, sometimes it is between John 7:53 and 8:11. Sometimes it’s in another part of John or at the end of John. One or two manuscripts have it in Luke. Scholars agree that they’re not quite sure where it belongs. But lest we be disheartened, they also agree there is no way anybody would have made up such a story. It ran so counter to the thinking of the day. There is no way some monk in a monastery would have thought up a story like this, where God would be so generous to an immoral woman! He wouldn’t do it. So the general agreement is that the story bears all the earmarks of genuineness and should be left where it is in most manuscripts. But some versions put it in brackets and others in a footnote. Some leave it out entirely. I would say to people, don’t give up too soon. Look in the footnote, then look at the end of John, then look at the Appendix before you decide it’s not there. The issue in the manuscripts is about where the story appears, not whether the story is a faithful representation of Jesus.
Lou: In your presentation, you referred to the fact that we will be comfortable with God even though we are in the presence of Someone who knows everything about us, even things we ourselves may have forgotten. Yet there are references in Scripture about how God has taken all our sins, put them in the depths of the sea, and will remember them no more (Jer 31:34; Mic 7:19; Heb 8:12; 10:17). Wouldn’t it be more reassuring to say, “He has blotted them out and they just don’t figure into any recollection whatsoever?”
Graham: Yes, I think some derive comfort from the thought that God will be unable to remember their sins, some kind of divine amnesia. They would prefer that none of their neighbors and friends, especially their guardian angels, will know about their sins or be able to remember them. But I think it shows even more trust in God to understand that He can remember very well, but He would never haunt anyone with this memory.
Now there is a vital reason for none of us forgetting, not even God. The history of the Great Controversy will be the history of the evidence of how God has won that conflict. After He has won it, He will not destroy the evidence, or the conflict could arise again and again. This explains why Jesus is pictured as keeping His human form (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:26-28; Acts 7:56). You may remember the wonderful painting of a little girl sitting in Jesus’ lap, picking up His hand and saying, “How did You get this mark?” Should that happen, will He say, “I don’t know, I’m hoping somebody can tell Me some day?” Of course not! There’s no point in His keeping His human form if the whole thing has been forgotten.
There is even further evidence that the record of sin will not be forgotten. The sins of many saints up there have been recorded in Scripture. In order for the record of David’s sins to be forgotten, all Bibles would have to be destroyed, along with all memory of the Bible’s contents. Psalm 51, David’s beautiful prayer for a new heart and a right spirit, would have to go. All that would be gone.
Lou: I suppose statements about our sins being “blotted out” and buried “in the depths of the sea,” are God’s way of reassuring us that though He knows us that well, He loves us and accepts us just as though we had never sinned.
Graham: My mother knew me very well, better than anyone. When I was invited to come to Loma Linda in 1961, she could have come before the Board and said, “You don’t want my son. Let me tell you some of the things he has done.” Yet I wasn’t concerned. I knew my mother would rather die than say such a thing! I knew my reputation was absolutely secure with my mother and with my father. Well, if our reputation can be secure with our parents, our reputation is totally secure with God.
Lou: Perhaps we are comfortable with God remembering. But what about our remembering, Graham?
Graham: No one will be admitted to the hereafter who cannot be entrusted with the memory of other people’s sins. God does not want us going up to Rahab and saying, “Hey, tell us a little. What was it like before you met the two spies?” That’s why in the middle of Paul’s list of dreadful sins in Romans 1 is the sin of gossiping. And then there’s 1 Timothy 5:13 (RSV), where Paul talks about people who not only go from house to house learning to be idle but become “gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.” Such people would not be safe to save for the Kingdom. They would make life a misery for everyone else. There will be no news service up there spreading the bad news about the things the rest of us have done.
Lou: I want to press you just a little bit further on this. I’m not thinking so much about my recollection of what others may have done. I’m thinking about the burden of my own memory and the things I’d like to forget.
Graham: I think that might require some good conversations with the Lord, and God would say, “Look, I’m not thinking about them. Why are you? Don’t worry.”
And you might say, “Well, I was afraid You might bring it up.”
“Really? No, not a chance.”
Lou: I suspect that I will be praising Him throughout eternity for being that kind of God!
Graham: Absolutely! And time is so healing, isn’t it? I know people who have had enemies who became their best friends. And when that happens you don’t bring up those unpleasant occasions anymore, except maybe to laugh about them. I can think of a couple of people who have hurt me, but I am now on very good terms with them. We never think about that anymore. We’re almost better friends because of it. That’s why David and Uriah can meet in the hereafter and not come to blows.