Questions and Answers (18:12)

Lou: Someone said the other day that there is actually a condition in the medical dictionary called theophobia– fear of God. It’s an actual ailment that a physician might need to be alert to.

Graham: That’s right. Doctors run into it now and then. It is a morbid fear of the wrath of God. Some saint preaches, “Fear God,” and doctors have to rush in to cure the theophobia. We’d better tell people the truth about God. Otherwise, we ministers will be working at odds with our clinical friends, making people ill with theophobia. We had better bring the good news that there is no need to be afraid of God. Jesus spent all His life healing the sick. It would be tragic to think about God, the One who meant to cast out fear, and have that become a theophobic experience.

Lou: You also mentioned Ephesians 4, where it suggests that the work of the church community is to help people grow up. How does a church try to do that? What can a church do to really help people grow?

Graham: As a pastor, you’ve devoted your life to thinking of ways to do this. It would be growing up for a member to go from a child-like, legal, authoritarian view to a larger understanding of freedom and truth. God does not ask us to believe anything for which He does not provide evidence. It is evidence that appeals to the reason. He urges us to inquire, to investigate. These are the things that a grown-up does.
We have to take trusting children and make them independent, but loving and trusting adults, adults who can withstand what’s coming. I think one of the first ways to do that is to invite our members to investigate every sermon that they hear. If they go home and investigate, over time they’ll grow up.

Lou: Toward the close of the previous chapter, you were suggesting some ways in which the Enemy has distorted and perverted Bible truths. Bible truths can be twisted to offer a terrible picture of God, one in which God is pictured inaccurately and unfairly. I’d like to turn that around here and have you suggest how a right understanding of those same truths can help people to grow up. For example, what is the correct understanding of faith?

Graham: The Devil would love to have saints understanding faith as believing what someone in authority tells us; that faith is a leap in the dark, it’s just believing. Because then he’ll have his way with us. The truth isn’t on his side. So what he needs is our willingness to believe without investigation. Genuine faith means trust, a well-founded trust, based on God’s demonstration of the truth.

Lou: What about the Holy Spirit?

Graham: The same way there. I think the Devil has perverted the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, offering the Holy Spirit as a shortcut. “You don’t need the truth; you just need the Spirit.” He teaches that when you have this indwelling, this feeling that comes up through your body, the Holy Spirit is taking over. And when the Spirit is in charge, God will run your life. It sounds so good, but it’s a devilish perversion.
In contrast, the Bible says, “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). He will help you investigate, and He will give you the gift of self-control. So all of these doctrines can be used both ways. We’ve got to present the Spirit as bringing independence (John 3:8), teaching us self-control, things like that.

Questions and Answers (18:11)

Lou: You made reference at the beginning to 1 Timothy 4:1-3. It says some interesting things about forbidding marriage and certain foods. With regard to marriage, didn’t Paul go so far as to say that we shouldn’t marry (1 Cor 7:25-28), and didn’t he write 1 Timothy too?

Graham: Well, by selecting random texts you can prove anything you like from the Bible. But if you take Paul’s comments on marriage in the full setting of 1 Corinthians, he has nothing against marriage whatsoever. In fact, at weddings, whose writings do we quote more than the writings of Paul? He said the nicest things about love and marriage. So one needs to read that part of 1 Corinthians as a description of an emergency; his advice about marriage was an emergency measure at that particular time. It’s not fair to Paul, or to the meaning of marriage, to pluck verses out of their setting.

Lou: This reference to food in 1 Timothy 4, however, makes me wonder. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has had a message about food and health. Could 1 Timothy be talking about that?

Graham: That text is sometimes used against us. We certainly do have some things to say about food. But we don’t teach people to avoid certain foods for arbitrary, ceremonial reasons. Through the centuries there have been religious organizations that have forbidden marriage and certain foods for ceremonial and religious reasons. That’s all 1 Timothy 4 is talking about.

Lou: So you are saying it’s quite a different thing to emphasize concerns about food for health reasons.

Graham: That’s right. Paul in Timothy is not discussing health at all. He is discussing arbitrary ceremonial restrictions that put God in a bad light.

Lou: Moving in another direction, you refer to Job frequently. But why would you use Job as a model, when at the end of the book he talks about repenting? That sounds like somebody who has been wrong and is saying, “I’m sorry. I’m a sinner.” How could Job be a good model when he is repenting?

Graham: A lot of folk, I think, misunderstand Job when they summarize with that statement. Job says, “I repent.” And they say, “The friends were right; they said he should repent.” You see, many people who read Job actually side with the friends. Those who take the narrow, legal view are more comfortable with the theology of Job’s friends than the theology of God in the book. But they fail to read on. After Job says, “I repent,” God says, “Don’t. You have done a beautiful job. You have said of Me what is right and those theologians have not” (Job 42:6-8).
Why then did Job say, “I repent?”
“God,” he says, “I have spoken of many things beyond my understanding. I wouldn’t say it the same way next time” (Job 42:2).
And God says back to him, “Look, We’re sympathetic up here. You’ve lost your family, lost your estate, lost your reputation and you are sitting on a dung heap with your clothes torn and your body covered with boils. We didn’t expect eloquent speeches from you. We think under the circumstances you did magnificently, Job! We couldn’t be more proud of you. You have said of Me what is right.”
Job was saying what every preacher could say at the end of every sermon, “I’m sorry I didn’t do a better job.”

Questions and Answers (18:10)

Lou: Changing the subject a little, will we know if and when we have been sealed?

Graham: Well, if we understand that we are sealed by the Spirit, we can look for the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). One of these fruits is a great concern for truth (Eph 5:9). Another fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal 5:22). And love does not insist on its own way. 1 Cor 13:5, ESV, RSV. All the fruits enter into the reckoning. The more I am perceiving and liking the truth, the more I’m willing to stake my life on this conviction about God. Then I realize the Spirit is having His way in my life. However, I must check my convictions by Scripture, where I got them from in the first place. I must continually submit my convictions to the correction of the Scriptures that were inspired by the Spirit.
The key is to be more and more settled into this picture of God, not just as an opinion but as something we would stake our lives on. Over time we will see that it is really affecting the way we behave and treat other people. Then one could say, “God, I thank You for the Spirit. He’s evidently having some success with me.”

Lou: When you talk about the seal of God, that reminds me of another phrase that you commented on. What really is the “mark of the beast?”

Graham: In Revelation the sealing is mentioned first, then the mark of the beast. If the seal is a symbol of loyalty to God, then the mark of the beast is a symbol of loyalty to the opposition. To receive the seal of God is to be so settled into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, that one cannot be moved. Conversely, to receive the mark of the beast is to be so settled into the lie, that you’ve completely substituted Satan’s lies for the truth. To receive the mark of the beast is to be so settled into Satan’s false picture of God that not even the Spirit of God could move us. So in essence, both the seal and the mark represent an inner commitment for eternity with respect to the truth about God.

Lou: For many of us Seventh-day Adventists, the seal of God has been tied very closely to the Sabbath. In fact, I myself have said that the seal of God is the Sabbath. But I hear you making a distinction between the Sabbath and the seal.

Graham: One has to stop and realize that the people who crucified Christ kept the seventh-day Sabbath scrupulously. Did they have the seal of God? They certainly were not settled into the truth about God. When Jesus brought the truth about God, they said He had a devil (John 7:20; 8:48), and they killed Him to silence His witness. On the other hand, the Sabbath reminds us of the things God has done. Knowing, intelligent, thoughtful observance of the seventh day is a reminder of all these great demonstrations of the truth about God. So in that sense, the Sabbath could be an outward expression of one’s settling into this truth about our God.

Lou: So the Sabbath has something to do with very deep understanding and experience.

Graham: Yes. When the issues in the Great Controversy are clearly seen, the preference for a substitute Sabbath could suggest preference for, even faith in, the one who wants to “be like the Most High” (Satan– 2 Thess 2:4). But not until then.

Response to Randy Nim’s on Rev 10:7

Here’s my response to Randy Nim’s comments on Rev 10:7. Sorry for the length, but it seemed best to have it all in one document. I distinguish mine from his by the use of bold text. It was helpful to think the Greek through with his contrary reading in mind, I think you will enjoy the give and take as well:

Randy Nims comments: Revelation 10:6-7 reads, “There will be no more delay, but in the days when the seventh angel is [about] to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced (good news) to his servants the prophets.”

The 2300-day prophecy is coming to a close and it closed about the year 1844. When the sanctuary was restored to its rightful state [Daniel 8:14], then began the final phase of Earth’s history. This is when the investigative judgment began.

I believe Randy is right so far, on the basis of Rev 10:6, which signals the close of Daniel’s time prophecies.

Revelation 10:7 reads that “when the seventh angel is [about] to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled.” The question becomes, what is the mystery of God and the good news. This is not the same event as Revelation 18:1 because in that passage coming down from heaven, having great authority, is the Holy Spirit that makes the earth bright with His splendor. This is the latter rain experience, which is not when the mystery of God is fulfilled. This is the final opportunity to make a decision to come into the boat before the door closes, but when did Noah start preaching? Noah revealed the truth years earlier! What was that truth?

Randy sees the blowing of the seventh trumpet as the same moment in history as the “no more delay” or “time no longer” of 10:6. The Adventist pioneers agreed. They were reading this text with the King James Version in mind. It says, “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.” By this reading the finishing of the mystery could be part of the seventh trumpet. But this is based on a poor translation of the Majority text the KJV (this is not a textual issue) was based on. The NKJV corrects this: “when he is about to sound.” The finishing of the mystery of God is before the sounding of the seventh trumpet, not during it. The pioneers (and Randy) also missed the force of the “but” at the beginning of verse 7. It (Greek: alla) draws a stark contrast between verse 6 and 7: the mystery of God is not finished at the “time no more,” but just before the sounding of the seventh trumpet instead. So Rev 10:7 parallels the content of the sixth trumpet, from the “time no more” to the close of probation.

The mystery of God is described in Colossians 1:26-29 where it reads, “the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.”

So Paul was preaching the mystery of God two thousand years ago. Noah was preaching it 4000+ years ago. Were the Millerites preaching the mystery of God before the end of the 2300-day prophecy? Absolutely! Even to this day, the Seventh-day Adventist Church preaches the mystery of God. We will continue to preach it until the latter rain produces the loud cry. It isn’t about a moment in time, but a process of time.

Unfortunately, the Antediluvians, those in Paul’s day, and the Millerites all dealt with a sweet message that had a bitter result. But verse 11 tells them and us to push forward and not give up.

I agree that the meaning of the “mystery of God” is the preaching of the gospel. It has gone on from the beginning and continues even after the close of Daniel’s time prophecies.

So just prior to 1844, just before the seventh angel was about to blow, just like it was preached before the flood, the mystery of God was preached. We are still preaching it today and will continue to preach it until the latter rain produces the loud cry.

Randy here assumes that Rev 10:7 talks about the continuation of the mystery of God not its completion. The ESV translation he seems to adopt above uses the ambiguous English word “fulfilled” for what happens to the mystery of God. Fulfilled can mean “finished” or it can simply mean “carried out.” In the latter case this would not be a reference to the close of probation (which presumably happens before the sounding of the seventh trumpet as noted above). But the Greek word is much clearer than the ESV. It is etelesthĕ from the Greek root teleŏ. This is the Greek word placed at the end of books (“The End”). It means “brought to and end, completed.” This is easy to see in Rev 11:7 and 20:3, 5, 7, when the 1260 days “were ended”, when the thousand years “came to an end.”

So about the year 1844 the seventh trumpet was sounded. It wasn’t a single blow, but a sound that continues to sound until the door is closed.

This last statement does not reflect the force of the Greek. The Greek of Rev 10:6-7 indicates a point in time when Daniel’s prophecies come to an end, but the preaching of the gospel does not come to an end at that time, it comes to an end when the seventh trumpet angel is “about to sound.” That means that the seventh trumpet does not begin in 1844, it begins after the close of human probation.

Questions and Answers (18:9)

Lou: It seems there is a bit of incongruity in the Scripture. It talks about us growing up (Eph 4:13-15), but then suggests we become like little children (Matt 18:3-4). If we’re not like little children, we can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus places a high priority on being like little children, yet you’re saying, “Why don’t you grow up?” What do you do with those references?

Graham: Consider the context in Matthew where Jesus makes that statement. His audience was misbehaving, so He takes a little child and says, “Unless you’re at least like this, you’ll not see the Kingdom.” And I don’t think we should ever lose that childlike trust, the curiosity, the willingness to listen, the willingness to learn. I think that is never to be lost. But Ephesians also says that we should not remain as children, requiring much protection. We should become adults who can stand on our own. I think it’s marvelous to see mature people in their seventies, eighties, and nineties who still have the curiosity, interest and trust of a little child.

Lou: That does lead to another question: “Is it possible for a person to tell that he or she is in fact growing up?”

Graham: This contrast between genuine love and the behavior of children gives us some ways to tell if we are growing up. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says, “I once thought like a child, but now I’ve given up childish ways” (1 Cor 13:11). Think of how little children boast, and how impatient and demanding they often are. The rest of the chapter, in contrast, explains how a grown-up behaves. Grown-ups love. Love is never rude, never impatient, never arrogant, never boasts, never insists on having its own way.
I think there’s an additional thing to consider. Why am I behaving the way I do? Am I doing it because somebody in authority has told me to, and He has the power to reward and destroy? Or am I sold on Paul’s message of love? In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul is describing how Jesus behaved. Not only that, ultimately he is telling us what God the Father is like (John 14:9; 1 John 4:8). In the end, maturity means to want to be like God. As I mature, God doesn’t have to tell me not to murder my mother-in-law anymore (by the way, my mother-in-law died before I met my wife, so this illustration is not personal). I no longer like the idea myself, you see. Eventually we will do what is right because it is right. We become like the God we worship. That’s all part of growing up.

Lou: Are you saying, then, that there is a certain legitimacy in evaluating the way we act, or the way we feel about other people?

Graham: I think if we see no progress at all on these matters over the past year, we should be concerned.

Lou: But there’s a certain danger in focusing on our growth, isn’t there? You don’t grow by trying to grow or by looking at yourself and hoping to grow. And how can you avoid the self-confidence of the Laodiceans, who felt very content with their spiritual situation?

Graham: One of the evidences that one is growing up is that one is becoming less and less arrogant. It’s little children that insist, “My daddy says it, and he’s bigger than your daddy, and therefore it’s true.” It would be a mark of great immaturity for an adult to talk like that. Boasting and arrogance suggest one is still a child. For someone to say, “I think I’ve almost made it now,” suggests they may not have even started. On the other hand, humility and the willingness to listen should become even greater as one gets older.

Questions and Answers (18:8)

Lou Venden: The title of this chapter leads to the question: “How much longer do you think God is going to wait?”

Graham Maxwell: I think that subject is so important that it’s the topic for the entire next chapter: “How Soon Will the Conflict Be Over?”

Lou: The idea of waiting also raises the question: “How is He waiting? Is God Himself uncertain about just how and when things will turn out? How does this relate to God’s knowledge about the future?”

Graham: My personal preference is not to limit God’s knowledge of the past, present or future in any way. I believe He knows precisely when He’s coming, but He speaks of waiting, and in some places He speaks of delay. We’ll cover those texts in the next chapter. The language of waiting indicates to us what is most important to Him. He will not come until the conditions are right. It does not suggest that He’s ignorant of these matters.

Lou: The idea of growing up raises another question: Most congregations include people at different ages and different stages of spiritual growth. Won’t there always be babes in the truth, people who need to grow up, new converts? How could it ever happen that everybody will be all grown up at the very same time? What exactly is God waiting for?

Graham: That’s why we included a whole chapter on perfection (Chapter Fourteen). Some in the church have made perfection almost unattainable, but I would define perfection as growing up, God healing the damage done by sin. Everything depends on what it means to be grown up. One does not have to be thirty or fifty or ninety to be grown up. I’m impressed with the maturity of Jesus at the age of twelve. He was so settled into the truth that, when He talked with the theologians of the day, He understood things better than they did. Perhaps we think maturing takes a long time, because we’ve made the truth too complicated. I think we will be amazed at how young people and new converts will be immovably committed to the truth that God is different than His enemies have made Him out to be. If we rightly understand what it means to be grown up and settled into the truth, it would make this much more attainable in the End.

Lou: I hear you suggesting that what really matters is simple, and yet profoundly important.

Graham: Both of those things, just the way you said it. The simplest statement is about the sublime truth that holds the universe together.

Maturity in the Last Days (18:7)

In the last days, our experience will be very much like that of Job. If we do not have a bigger perspective, based on all sixty-six books of the Bible, we will not be ready for what is coming. Unless we are grounded in the universe-wide understanding of God, the Great Controversy and the plan of salvation, we will be no help to ourselves. We will be very vulnerable when Satan seeks to deceive us, when he tells us that God is an arbitrary, vengeful Deity. And we will be no help to anyone else.

It seems to me that a great deal of current Christian theology is preoccupied with our legal standing before God. Is that why God still waits until we grow up into a much larger understanding of the truth? For without that larger understanding of the truth, we will never survive the time of trouble at the End. That’s why Paul says, “Put on the whole armor that God has supplied, and particularly the armor of truth.” And in Ephesians 6 he places that theme in the context of the Great Controversy:

Put on all the armour which God provides, so that you may be able to stand firm against the devices of the devil. For our fight is not against human foes, but against cosmic powers [Satan and his angels], against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens. Therefore, take up God’s armour; then you will be able to stand your ground when things are at their worst, to complete every task and still to stand. Stand firm, I say. Fasten on the belt of truth [emphases supplied]. Eph 6:11-14, NEB.

We know what that truth is: the good news about our God.

Biblical Examples of Maturity (18:6)

When Saul of Tarsus (Paul) was a grown-up man and the religious leader of his people, he came to realize that in his legalistic theology he was still a little child. He had assumed he was doing God a favor when he helped stone Stephen to death (Acts 7:58 – 8:1). But when he learned the truth about God, he began to grow up and put away childish things. He wrote: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor 13:11, RSV). In the context of 1 Corinthians 13, maturity is defined as love. We’ll come back to that in the Question and Answer section at the end of this chapter.

Now there is a time in life when it’s appropriate to be a child, to believe what we are told, and even to do what we are told. But while we are still children, since the enemy of God and man is abroad in the land, we need much protection. We need God’s emergency measures to help us believe and do what is right (see Chapter Eleven). God has been willing to give them to us and we thank Him for them. But in the last days, there will be no protection. Satan will twist all of God’s emergency measures to support his own position, and to put God in a very bad light. In those days, we will really need to be grown-up.

Job was grown-up. But consider the ways in which Satan sought to break him down and undermine his trust in God. God said in Job 1 and 2, for important great controversy reasons, “Satan, you may do anything you like to this man, except take his life. He will not let Me down.” Satan set out to destroy Job. He destroyed his family. He destroyed his estate. He destroyed his reputation. He destroyed his health. Then he set out to undermine Job’s theology, his picture of God. Three or four friends came to help him. But those friends did not know God very well, although they thought they did. In fact, the God they worshiped was arbitrary, exacting, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe. If only those friends had known the Larger View, the Great Controversy, what we now know from Job, chapters 1 and 2. Think how they could have helped and blessed poor Job. Instead, Job said, “Miserable comforters are you all” (Job 16:2). They were only making things worse. Perhaps the greatest distress that came to Job came from the bad theology of his well-meaning, but mistaken friends. Caring theologians, who did not know God but had a very legal view of things, caused Job great distress. But he would not be deceived, even by them.

Mature Obedience (18:5)

Let me ask it another way. Which moves you more, the thunders of Sinai (Exodus 19:16-19) or the still small voice of truth (1 Kings 19:11-12)? Satan is going to bring great thunder and fire from heaven in the sight of men; miracles and wonders (2 Thess 2:8-10; Rev 13:13-14). If that is what moves us, then we are very vulnerable. We’re still babes in the truth. God has used those methods with babes, but He waits for us to grow up. The one thing that the Devil cannot produce is the still small voice of truth, for the truth is not with him. We must be ready to recognize truth as the supreme authority.

Do you obey because God has told you to, and He has the power to reward and destroy? That’s the obedience of a little child. Do you obey because God has told you to, and you love Him and want to please Him? Is that the only reason why you don’t murder your enemies? Because it upsets Him and you’d rather please Him? That’s sweet, but still the faith of a little child. Or do you do what is right, because it is right? Do we offer God the intelligent, agreeing obedience of free, grown-up children? That is what pleases Him the most. With mature obedience like that, we are ready for the days to come.

Are we still preoccupied with our own salvation, with what God has done for us? Or do we see the plan of salvation in its larger perspective, a plan that involves the whole universe? In the great controversy view, Jesus Christ died on the cross to demonstrate the truth about our heavenly Father that will establish this universe safe and free for all eternity. It is that truth which also saves us, but there was a far larger purpose in the plan of salvation than just to save you and me.

Do you still demand vengeance on your enemies–tit for tat, an eye for an eye? Of course, you wouldn’t call it that. You would call it justice. But is that really what it is? Do you demand that your enemies suffer all that they deserve in the final fires of the End, or you will not be satisfied? Would you lose respect for a God who would do anything less? Do you demand that wicked people get precisely what they deserve, or you will not be satisfied?

Or are you ready to join our heavenly Father as He cries, watching His rebellious children reap the consequences of their own rebellious choices? God does not turn His back on His sinful children. He watches them as they die. He is not torturing them to death. He leaves them to reap the consequences of their own choices. I would dare suggest that if you still desire vengeance at the End, though you may call it justice, you are acting like a little child.

Settled Into the Truth (18:4)

What truth can we be so settled into that despite the Devil’s most convincing efforts to the contrary, we cannot be moved? Is it the truth that God exists and that He is infinitely powerful? Well, the devils believe that and it scares them (James 2:19). Is it the truth that the end is coming soon? Satan agrees that it is coming soon (Revelation 12:12), and he works all the harder. He is settled into those two things. Is it the truth that the seventh-day is the Sabbath? Is it the truth that we should keep all ten of the commandments, that we should read our Bibles faithfully as God’s word? Is it the truth that we should pay a careful tithe, be very careful about what we eat, and be very careful how we associate with sinners who might lead us astray?

I don’t want to minimize those matters, but they are not enough in themselves. All of the above were believed and practiced by the very ones who put Jesus on the cross. After Jesus died, they rushed home to keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy, with their tithe paid up and no forbidden food in their stomachs. Evidently the truth into which we must be sealed is far more than just the list of beliefs I mentioned above, important as they are.

Throughout the Bible, the all-important truth, the saving truth, is above all else the truth about our God. Jesus came to bring us this truth about His Father, so that we might be won back to God in love and trust. It is the truth that God can heal and save all who trust Him. When the Spirit comes, He will bring to our remembrance the things that Jesus has said about the Father (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit comes so that we may know God better (Eph 1:17). That’s the consistent picture of the truth that runs all through Scripture.

Do we really accept Jesus’ picture of the Father? Jesus is very specific. In John 16 He makes a statement about His Father that has no symbols, figures of speech or parables in it. He says, “The time has come for Me to tell you plainly and clearly about My Father. There is no need for Me to pray to the Father for you. For the Father Himself loves you” (John 16:25-27). Do you accept that? Do you accept it to the extent that it’s an integral part of your whole theology and understanding of the plan of salvation? Or are you still unable to accept what Jesus described as a plain, clear statement of the truth about His Father? There is no need for the Son to plead with the Father in our behalf, because the Father loves us just as much as the Son does.

Let’s recall other things that Jesus said. The Spirit brings these sayings back to our remembrance (John 14:26). “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9). “If you know Me, you know the Father” (John 14:7). Do we really believe that the Father is just as gracious as the Son? Is that an integral part of our Christian theology? Did anyone need to reconcile Christ Jesus to us as sinners? Did anything need to be done to assuage and appease the wrath of Jesus and win Him to our side? Then if we believe Jesus’ testimony about the Father, nothing had to be done to reconcile the Father to us either. He loves us just as much as the Son does. Are we so settled into this truth about our God that we cannot be moved? Or are we still easily swayed to and fro by every wind of doctrine? Back to Ephesians:

We are no longer to be children, tossed by the waves and whirled about by every fresh gust of teaching, dupes of crafty rogues and their deceitful schemes. No, let us speak the truth in love; so shall we fully grow up into Christ (Eph 4:14-15, NEB).

We should ask ourselves: Are we still such children in the faith that we need emergency measures in order to be reverent toward God and to do what is right? If we still need those emergency measures, we are still babes in the truth. That’s why Paul, in the book of Hebrews, wrote:

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. . . . Heb 5:13-14; 6:1, NIV.

What are the elementary teachings about Christ? Well, let us ask ourselves. Do we still need the law in order to love God and love each other? Do we need it to keep us from hating and murdering our enemies? Would we murder them if there was no law to say we must not do it? If it’s the law that keeps you from murdering your mother-in-law, then you are still very much a child and not ready for the awful “time of trouble” that is coming (Dan 12:1; Rev 7:14).