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The Most Costly and Convincing Evidence — 38 Comments

  1. While listening to the video I was totally taken back by what was presented. Never before have I heard the subject presented with such clarity. And yes it is very heavily biased toward a particular view but I find nothing biblically wrong with that view and the more I think about it the more I agree with what Dr. Maxwell said. As I have said before we are so egocentric in our view of the cross so that we tend to think that it was done only for us. We so easily overlook the greater picture of the great controversy and the fact that sin started in Heaven and then eventually came to earth.

    I think it would greatly help if as a denomination we would take time to deeply study the subject of inspiration. It isn’t just because we believe in the ministry of Ellen White but because questions such as those that arise over the issues in this video can mostly be answered by understanding the purpose of the Bible and how it was put together. One of the chief things I believe we need to understand about the Bible is that even though the base source of information comes from God it was still written by humans and therefore is essentially a communication from one human to another.

    As Ellen White said:

    The Lord gave His word in just the way He wanted it to come. He gave it through different writers, each having his own individuality, though going over the same history. Their testimonies are brought together in one Book, and are like the testimonies in a social meeting. (Selected Messages Book 1, p. 21-22)

    The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God’s mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. (abid.)

    Lawyers can usually tell when testimony is contrived and a conspiracy exists. They simply notice that everyone is saying exactly the same thing. “It is seldom that two persons will view and express truth in the very same way. Each dwells on particular points which his constitution and education have fitted him to appreciate. The sunlight falling upon the different objects gives those objects a different hue.
    Through the inspiration of His Spirit the Lord gave His apostles truth, to be expressed according to the development of their minds by the Holy Spirit. But the mind is not cramped, as if forced into a certain mold.” (abid.)

    • "So egocentric in our view of the cross"? I have never heard this taught in nearly 60 years. I've never read or heard it was "only for us", though it is clearly taught that "God so loved the world". Sin found a harbor on earth and the cross was planted here to redeem sinners. This fact reaches all creation and reveals the character of the Creator more fully. But there would be no cross except for sin, so yes, it's initial purpose was to remedy the problem that sin would create. It was planned before the need and brought forth the day sin entered paradise. We can't lose our balance in trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist.

      It was the lost sheep that the shepherd went looking for. But the other 99 found solace in the fact that IF they were the lost one, they would be found!

  2. How loved we are by God who will continue to woo those we pray for. How grateful I am for His love and how He continues to call us and ask us to return to Him.

  3. I will address some of the points Dr. Maxwell makes.

    He stated that God does not need to destroy sinners, saying they will destroy themselves. I would like to have this idea explained further in the light of the following: God was compelled to remove man from the garden and the tree of life lest they live forever as sinners. God brought a flood to destroy the wicked from the earth who were multiplying. God destroyed the cities on the plain including Sodom. The Bible says "fire from heaven" will destroy the wicked following the 1,000 years in the fire “prepared for the devil and his angels”.

    Dr Maxwell did not like the word "propitiation" (used in many English translations), saying it makes God look wrathful or angry. How is that when it was God who provided this propitiation?(John 3:16) It was the very work of Jesus, to appease or satisfy God's "wrath" against sinners. (Dr Maxwell at one point defined well what the wrath of God actually is, which has nothing to do with anger as we experience it.) I would like to suggest the idea that propitiation is the blood on the mercy seat on our behalf, which was without sin, thus showing the law as holy, just and good. This provided sinners with a choice to repent and receive by faith the righteousness of Christ in exchange for being forsaken by God who's righteous law they had violated. By this propitiation (covering) for them (typified by the coats of skin that God provided Adam and Eve), sinners can be justified by God and God is just in doing so. All of this is clearly shown in types and shadows of the sanctuary services, and before that in the sacrifices instituted by God at man's fall. Jesus' righteous death as our substitute, shown by the sprinkled blood over the law, satisfies God's need to forsake any who receive righteousness by faith in the Surety.

    I would need to watch again, but I have in my notes the question of how does the death of Jesus bring unity (atonement) between God and man if He did not die for our sins? What was the death for then?
    If Jesus didn't die for sins, but had to die to convince His creatures of God's goodness, why didn't He die before sin entered? It makes no sense, but I will admit I might not have understood perfectly, but this is what I got from what he was saying. I got the feeling that Venden was also puzzled by this idea.

    Did I misunderstand? There's more, but time does not permit.

    • Hi Robert,

      Perhaps in considering a few questions, you can come to your own conclusion:
      Who "compelled" God to remove Adam and Eve from the garden?
      Did the tree of life have intrinsic power to sustain eternal life? Or did God use it as a means of sustaining eternal life?
      Are our lives today stustained just by the food we eat, or does God have something to do with our continuing existence?

      You see, I believe that every atom in this universe is sustained by God's power - the leaves of a tree, the fruit it bears, the beating of our hearts are all sustained by His power. If He should stop sustaining life, we would immediately cease to exist. And that's why rebellion against God with its attendant separation from the Source of life = death. God does not pay the "wages" of sin. Death is the natural result of separation from God. That understanding is not opposed to His active intervention in the history of this planet to prevent sin and sinners from obliterating His people.

      I believe you are misunderstanding Maxwell's teaching in your reference to propitiation. He does not like the word the English translators used because of the meaning ascribed to it, which does not include the include the nuances of the original. This word "propitiation" lends itself to thinking of an angry God having to be "propitiated" by some sort of sacrifice - the very teaching of paganism. Of course Dr Maxwell also teaches that God Himself provided the sacrifice. Please do not suggest otherwise.

      Watching the video again might allow you to see the bigger picture. Dr Maxwell's basic thesis is that the great controversy is over whether or not God can be trusted. Remember that Eve sinned by distrusting God and His Word and trusting the serpent instead. In that way of looking at the great controversy, Christ's death demonstrated His self-renouncing love and His ultimate trustworthiness. At the same time, Maxwell does not deny that Christ died in our place. He does, however, deny that Christ's death is a propitiation to satisfy the wrath of an angry God. It's a matter of how you choose to look at Christ's sacrifice. There are many options, and many are true - just different facets of the greater picture. Different ways of looking at God's plan of salvation appeal to different people.

      The question of why Christ did not die before sin entered makes no sense to me. There was no question about God's character before sin entered.

      Since Venden was well acquainted with Maxwell's teaching, I doubt that he was puzzled over such a fundamental question in regard to his teaching. He does, however, do a good job of presenting the questions, as you appear to corroborate. 🙂

      • Inge, if you and Robert don’t mind I would like to inject my thoughts in the middle of this discussion. Even though I do not agree with Robert in many of his conclusions, on the matter of the Greek word hilasmos (ἱλασμός) translated in the KJV as propitiation I must agree to its basic meaning with some modifications which I will explain.

        The NET Bible has a very interesting translator’s technical note on that word in 1 Jn 2:2 which says a lot:

        A suitable English translation for this word (ἱλασμός, hilasmos) is a difficult and even controversial problem. "Expiation," "propitiation," and "atonement" have all been suggested. L. Morris, in a study that has become central to discussions of this topic (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 140), sees as an integral part of the meaning of the word (as in the other words in the ἱλάσκομαι [hilaskomai] group) the idea of turning away the divine wrath, suggesting that "propitiation" is the closest English equivalent.

        In all my references I can find no better explanation than this. They all say the same thing. I do believe that we have to somehow make sense of the use of this word with respect to what the rest of scripture has to say concerning God’s attitude towards sinners. It seems to me that we really don’t know the exact meaning of that word.

        I do think that Dr. Maxwell is right when he mentions Heb 9:5 as being the same word as found in Rom 3:25-26 which is the same as that found in 1 Jn 2:2. To me it is unfortunate that translators will often use words to convey a thought in the ancient languages that they think will clarify the meaning when actually it only muddies the waters instead. The term “Day of Atonement” is one such instance where the literal rendering of the Hebrew is “day of covering” which uses the language of justification.

        To see what the word hilaskomai really means I went to the Septuagint, the Bible that the first century Jews and Christians used that is a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. But before I do that I think there is one text in the New Testament we should look at first. It is the story of the publican and the Pharisee praying in the temple in which it is said, “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying,`God, be merciful to me a sinner!'” (Lk 18:13 NKJV). Now the interesting thing is that the word translated “merciful” is the Greek word ἱλάσκομαι (hilaskomai) that just happens to be the very same word that is translated “propitiation” in Rom 3:25.

        Now using the Septuagint there are a couple of verses worth looking at but because of space consideration I will use just one of them.

        "Yet in this thing may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the temple of Rimmon to worship there, and he leans on my hand, and I bow down in the temple of Rimmon-- when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD please pardon your servant in this thing" (2 Kings 5:18 NKJV).

        The Youngs Literal Translation renders the first and last part of that verse, “For this thing Jehovah be propitious to thy servant” (2 Kings 5:18 YLT) and “Jehovah be propitious, I pray thee, to thy servant in this thing” (2 Kings 5:18 YLT). The word “pardon” or what other translations have “forgive” and the YLT has “propitious” is the Greek “ἱλάσεται” which is the verb form of ἱλάσκομαι, the word used in Rom 3:25. I think here we need to note that Jehovah is the one who is being requested to do that and is consistent with God’s own testimony of Himself, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty” (Ex 34:6-7 NKJV). He can’t forgive the guilty because they refuse it.

        The Septuagint in 2 Kings 5:18 is translating the Hebrew word, “סָלַח“ (calach) which is defined as, “1) to forgive, pardon 1a) (Qal) to forgive, pardon 1b) (Niphal) to be forgiven.” What we see here (and there is a lot more that can be said) is that the Septuagint uses the Greek “hilaskomai” when the ideas of forgiveness, pardon, and mercy are being conveyed. After all, “the Father Himself loves you” (Jn 16:27 NKJV) so there is no struggle between the Father and the Son over forgiving sinners and no one is demanding that something die or else forgiveness can’t be offered. Like the father in the parable who welcomed back the prodigal son without demanding a sacrifice or the son begging to be accepted so God welcomes back the sinner as though he never sinned. It is a love story that doesn’t make demands of restitution or sacrifice but only attempts to reconcile us to himself.

        The word translated into propitiation is a choice the writers of the Bible used to best convey what needs to be said to fallen man in his very narrow twisted way of thinking. As I have quoted before, “The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God’s mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented” (Selected Messages Book 1, p. 21-22).

        • Hi Tyler,

          I welcome the opportunity to discuss points brought up in the video.

          Dr Graham expressed that he considered the translation of the Greek words hiasmos and hilasteron into "propitiation" or "propitiate" unfortunate. If I remember correcctly, he brought up the fact that hilasteron also means mercy seat, mercy, or place of reconciliation. Theologians have argued over the correct translation for centuries, and I see no hope of settling the issue here. However, I do note that Martin Luther translated Ro 3:25 "whom God has displayed as a mercy seat through faith in His blood ..." And I tend to see that as a translation less likely to lead to wrong pictures of God, and Maxwell would agree.

          The Amplified Bible version is known for providing more nuances than other versions, and Ro 3:25 reads thus: "Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment." In this translation, including "mercy seat" provides context for "propitiation" and helps us to realize that it's not all about appeasing an angry God.

          If Christ's death is meant to "turn away divine wrath," it creates a separation between Father and Son, in that the Father's anger is "propitiated" by the self-sacrificing Son. But that goes against the rest of Paul's teaching. He writes in 2 Cor. 5:19 "that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." Thus both Father and Son are shown to be united in providing the means of reconciliation.

          As students of the Word of God, we don't necessarily need to know the original languages. We can allow the Bible to interpret itself, and, especially, we can let Paul interpret his own letters. Paul mentions Christ's death on the cross again in the same epistle in Ro 5:10 KJV, "when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son."

          Christ in the gospels and Paul in his epistles makes clear that God loved us before Christ's sacrifical death. Therefore His death was not a matter of "propitiating" an angry God. In fact, since God Himself provided the sacrifice, it is clear that God's intent was to reconcile man to Himself - i.e. to bring about a change of attitude in mankind, and that is what Dr Maxwell argues, without denying that there is a substitutionary element to the atonement. In my opinion, this substitution of His dying in our stead so that we might have the life that is His is the strongest appeal to our hearts so that we might accept Him as Savior.

      • How should we explain this Inge?....

        "Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life."

        (See also PP 60, EW 218)

        If man was to simply die on his own, why this added action on God's part? What does this tell us? I'm not saying I have the full answer, though the question is begged in light of what is being discussed. I've never questioned the results of sin and how we bring suffering upon ourselves, but unless the fruit was poisoned, why would physically perfect Adam die in a perfect world without God withholding His life-giving power? If the tree of life was a symbol only, why this need by God? Nothing else changed on it's own did it? God (and Ellen) seem to think the tree of Life is significant, which might not fully negate your suggestions. But there is something about it we must admit and God took action lest sinners live forever.

        But again I would ask you as well, who is saying sin has no consequences on the sinner apart from God's intervention? Cigarette cartons don't say "God will kill you if you smoke!" God doesn't make drunk drivers have accidents. Why is this point being labored? It seems arguing to the point that God will not do anything against sinners when He makes it very clear that He will and must, but it's the sinners choice. The fire is prepared for the Devil and his "messengers"(YLT). So who's "messenger" am I?...should be our question with every choice made.

        It seems though that we all agree God will and must do something at last. So I think we are all in agreement on both points actually, and allowed someone else's difficulty to become our argument. Why is that?

        • Hello Robert,

          I believe the same as what Maxwell conveys - that the natural consequence of sin is death because it is rebellion against and separation from the very Source of Life. That does not mean that God does not take action against sin and sinners. The biblical account demonstrates many such actions - not only God's driving Adam and Eve out of the Garden, but also the act of destroying rebellious sinners by a world-wide flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the destruction of Uzzah, and we could go on. These divine actions do not negate the larger principle that death is not an arbitrary punishment for sin but its natural consequence.

          Sin destroys. God loves His created beings and wants them to live, and because He wants sinners to live, He Himself entered human history in the incarnate Jesus Christ to demonstrate His love and trustworthiness so sinners would be drawn to Him and allow Him to save them. That's why Jesus said to Nicodemus, "if I be lifted up [referring to the manner of His death], I will draw all unto me." (John 12:32) Notice that Jesus said that His death would result in drawing humanity to Him.

          Our freedom of choice is precious to God because there is not love without this freedom. Thus He will never violate our freedom of choice. So God devised a way that would demonstrate His love so powerfully that sinners would be drawn to Him. I cannot find any place Jesus said that His crucifixion was to be a payment of any kind. I can find no place that Jesus said that His death would appease His Father's wrath. Instead, He said that His death would draw mankind to Him. (By the way, this does not negate the substitutionary nature of the atonement. It is clear that either sinners would die or Jesus would die in their stead and thereby save all who would allow themselves to be saved.)

          And that's why Maxwell teaches that the central significance of the cross is its drawing power on sinners. And that's also why he considers "propitiation" to be an unfortunate translation of Rom 3:25.

          It seems that no one can be certain this late in time what the original meaning of "hilasteros" was intended to be. Most scholars agree that it is legitimate to translate it as propitiation, place of mercy, or atonement. I note that Tyler mentioned that the KJV translates the same word in Heb 9:5 as "mercy seat." And Luther is consistent in translating the word as "mercy seat" (Gnadenstuhl) in both Ro 3:25 and Heb 9:5.

          I suppose then it is left up to us to interpret according to what we see as the overall representation of the character God in Scripture: Do we see him as an offended God who needs to be placated by the death of His Son, or do we see God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Or do we see the problem of sin mainly as a legal problem so that God cannot forgive without a penalty being paid, or de we see the problem of sin as primarily a relational problem.

          I see the problem of sin as mainly a relational problem in that sin is rebellion against God and separates the sinner from God. That does not negate the fact that sin is also the breaking of the Law of God and thus gets the sinner into legal trouble out of which he needs to be saved.

          I see that the NT demonstrates two ways of looking at sin in the New Testament, and, unfortunately, we have focused on only one. In Ro 14:23, Paul tells us that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin," and John tells us in 1 John 3:4 that "sin is the transgression of the law." Faith is a relationship word. "Transgression of the law" is a legal term, unless you consider that the law is a law of love.

          We must not choose one over the other, because they are both true and both in harmony when we recognize that love is the fulfilling of the law. Whatever does not arise from love is sin, and love of God generates perfect faith (trust).

        • In reference to "propitiate" here is what I have recently learned Inge:

          While it was presented in a "negative" light, depicting a delinquent husband forgetting an anniversary date, and thus needing to calm a justly "angry" wife with "propitiating" gifts, I believe we place a a meaning not applicable to God who states emphatically that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and is not willing that any should perish. Jesus tells us that God so loved the world that He provided hope for a world without hope. So why define this beautifully descriptive word to imply that God is angry? Who is saying God is angry? God isn't. Dr Graham beautifully described God's wrath in it's true meaning, which has nothing to do with Him being angry, so this must have a different meaning when referring to God and His propitiated "wrath". The death of Jesus pleased God, and brought Him "satisfaction"(Isa 53:10,11)(hilastérion is also defined as "satisfy") meaning the plan was perfectly just and allows God to justify sinners. (Rom 3:25,26). God devised this plan Himself to save His erring creatures from eternal death. Do we see any feelings of anger in the father accepting His prodigal son back from the "dead"? (Luke 15:32) Not even close! More like “exceeding joy”!

          The Hebrew word now translated as "mercy seat" [kapporeth] is defined as "propitiatory". As Dr Maxwell shared, the term mercy seat was not used until the 16th century AD. It only becomes “propitiatory” with the blood. Without the blood it is just a lid.

          Propitiatory synonym: "peace making" (as in Rom 5:1), and don't we see Jesus as the "Prince of Peace"? (Isa 9:6) Remember, the death of Jesus was providing "peace on earth, and goodwill toward men" according to the angel choir, and God's grace “given in Christ Jesus before the world began”.

          The greek word hilasmos, also originating from the same original word as hilastérion [hilaskomai], is also translated as "propitiation" in 1 Jn 2:2 and 4:10(KJV), illustrating the word's true meaning. We must see this as the sinless blood of Jesus being sprinkled on the "propitiatory" of the ark, allowing God to forgive and cleanse from all unrighteousness. This is the blood that makes white the robes of the servants of God. (Rev 7:14) This “satisfies” God who then places His Seal upon them “with exceeding joy” (Jude 24).

          Concerning the definition of sin, in a word: unbelief. This reveals a relation gone sour. Faith is the result of a strong relation, full of assurance and trusting confidence. The result of unbelief will be transgression of the law. Perhaps a legal term in some views, but clearly relational in it's origin. Or should we say lack of relation?

          As for payment, what is the meaning of Rom 6:23? Who pays this? Where does Jesus' death fit in this idea? What is the meaning of the hymn that says "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe..."?

        • I agree with Sister Anderson 100%.

          I also wish to point out that God's acts of destruction in the Bible stories all seem to have had a redemptive purpose!

          In other words, He destroyed sinners to preserve the knowledge of His truth from being wiped out or lost. This happened at the flood for example.

          If the Ten Commandments are a transcript of God's character; we must ask ourselves where "Thou shalt not murder" fits in to God's character.
          We know that it's the enemy who is the murderer.

          This does not mean that God does not have the power or right to take life. It does mean, however, that God does not kill people simply because He can't get His way with them i.e. "Love me or I'll kill you!" Or "Obey me or I'll kill you!"

          What kind of obedience would that be?
          A God like that would make the entire Great Controversy unnecessary.

          • Hi Andrew,

            Just a quick comment regarding the sixth commandment which you correctly quote as "You shall not murder." This is not the same as "You shall not kill." As Dr Maxwell points out in this video, God nowhere gives a command that says, "You shall not kill." And I will add that God specifically rewarded Phinehas, the son of Eliezer, for killing a prince in Israel who was in rebellion against the Lord. (See Numbers 25:5-13) In that case, Phinehas carried out the judgement of the Lord.

            Murder, on the other hand, carries in it the idea of killing someone that the murderer hates for one reason or another.

            When God removes His life-sustaining power from any individual, that person dies. But when God wants to make a point, He does it much more dramatically than allowing the person to just die quietly, as in the case of Uzzah or the two sons of Aaron who profaned the sanctuary. Both actions diminished the holiness of God in the eyes of the people and thus put them in danger of taking the life-giving commands of God too lightly - to their eternal danger.

            Yes, God kills - and Maxwell says that God "puts His children to sleep," which is the same thing, except with a little less drama. I think the "putting to sleep" phrase doesn't quite fit the way God has chosen to do things in man's history. But I agree totally with the ultimate point that when God kills people in judgment, it is for the good of His creation, not because He delights in killing.

        • Inge, I like what you say. I think it is balanced and testifies to a loving God. I would like to inject one little thought, however, without getting into it to deeply. Through the years I have come to see the destructive acts of God from the perspective of the definition of wrath that is in Rom 1. I find a lot of support for that in Christ’s ministry and teaching.

          Jesus started His ministry in the heart of God’s people at Jerusalem and the immediate area around that city that was called Judea. When that area rejected Him and tension got too great He moved His ministry off to Galillee (Jn 4:1-3) where He grew up as a child. After they rejected Him there He went into other areas and then finally for a short time to Perea (Jn 10:40-42). After that He made His way to Jerusalem for the final time to be crucified. There is a pattern in all of this that Jesus taught His disciples, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another” (Mat 10:23 NKJV) and we find the same prescription in His charge to His disciples just before He ascended, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Act 1:8 NKJV). Notice the ever increasing circle Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, end of the earth. That happened when the disciples were scattered because of persecution, first to nearby areas (Acts 8:1) but then throughout the Roman Empire which afterward was part of Paul’s ministry.

          Jesus never forced Himself on people but when they rejected Him He removed himself. We see that in God’s mournful cry, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred” (Hos 11:8 NKJV) which Jesus basically repeats concerning Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Lk 13:34-35 NKJV).

          That same thing will happen to the entire world as the spirit of Christ is rejected. The Spirit will gradually withdraw until finally Satan has full control and then there is destruction:

          When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. God’s long-suffering has ended. The world has rejected His mercy, despised His love, and trampled upon His law. The wicked have passed the boundary of their probation; the Spirit of God, persistently resisted, has been at last withdrawn. Unsheltered by divine grace, they have no protection from the wicked one. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble. As the angels of God cease to hold in check the fierce winds of human passion, all the elements of strife will be let loose. The whole world will be involved in ruin more terrible than that which came upon Jerusalem of old. (Great Controversy, p 614.1)

          • Thank you for this added dimension, Tyler. What you share is that when God withdraws His Spirit, Satan ensures "the wages of sin."

            The wicked will nearly have destroyed each other before Christ returns in a glory so bright that the rest of the wicked are killed by that very glory. (See, 2 Thess 2:8)

        • While Satan tries to get others to think God is looking to kill any who get out of line, he doesn't believe it himself and knows it's a lie.

          With the extreme measures God has taken to save all from death, no one needs to be ignorant of His true character.

          But in the end, isn't the Gospel, like the ark, provided so any can escape the sure end of those who don't follow God's ways? Doesn't He have to bring sin to an end at last? Why are so many afraid of this side of God's ultimate action to make pure again that which was defiled? The sanctuary is filled with many ceremonies to purify a contaminated person or thing. Sometimes by fire or water. Without this cleansing action, the defilement will eventually spread everywhere.

          God is a creator, not a destroyer, but with the presence of a destroyer, God must intervene. In trying to make Him seem totally benign, we deny Him of His true sovereignty and as such, His obligations to His obedient creation, who look to Him for all needs.

          He says it Himself, the guilty will not be cleared, and none of what He must do makes Him evil. It's possible to err in either direction if we fail to understand fully His character, government and purposes.

        • Yes Inge, but I don’t know whether I would have said it the way you did because Satan does have his human agents that he very gladly allows to live and prosper. In Fact that was one of the reasons the Pharisees rejected Jesus because He didn’t fit their model of prosperity that they thought was a sure sign of God’s acceptance. So I do think we need to be a bit careful how we state the situation.

          [It has been pointed out to me that the above paragraph needs some clarity so I will do it with this parenthetical statement. First, I am in no way disagreeing with Inge. I think she has her ducks in line so to speak. What I am saying is that when God withdraws His spirit that doesn’t automatically cause Satan to “ensure ‘the wages of sin’”. There are many instances where leaving things be is to his advantage and so he doesn’t do his thing because of that.

          On the other hand if we consider something like the nation of Israel that was prophesied to bring forth the Messiah it is all to his advantage to destroy and kill as much as he can. Of course there is always God’s restraint even when people rebel “for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mat 5:45 NKJV) so the really nasty destruction won’t be until the end when he knows his time is up and God’s Spirit has fully withdrawn.

          One can also think of it as God leaving a vacuum when He pulls out which the one other power in the universe is all too glad to fill (Matt 12:43-45 says something to that effect). When Adam and Eve sinned God essentially turn them over to their new master, at least to a degree, where they quickly reaped the “benefits” of that transfer. I believe this is what Inge was essentially saying.]

          Your second paragraph is interesting and I can see examples in the Bible where self destruction occurred. First one I think of is what happened to the camp of the Midianites concerning Gideon and his 300 men that stood still and saw the results not of their own doing:

          “And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man's sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia1, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath” (Judges 7:21-22 NKJV).

          The second one I can think of is the battle that Jehoshaphat didn’t have to engage in because he was told that it was the Lord’s battle, not his:

          “Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped (2 Chron 20:22-24 NKJV)

          I know that people will look at me and say yes but the Bible says that the Lord did it. True but the Bible also says that God hardened Pharaoh’s which not only most scholars but also Ellen White argued against. There are many places in the Bible that says that God did it when in fact He simply allows an event to happen just like it was with Job who lost just about everything at the hand of Satan because God gave him permission. To me that is why John saw four angels holding the four winds from doing destruction until the saints were sealed (Rev 7:1-3). After they have been sealed probation closes and Satan is let loose and, “the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation” (Rev 14:10 NKJV) allows Satan to destroy all he wants which is something God as never allowed up to that point.

          The other point you mention is the glory of God that kills. It is the sword that comes out of His mouth that does the work (Rev 1:16, Rev 2:16, Rev 19:15,21). We all know what that sword is, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12 NKJV). The glory of God is the revealed character of God as seen in the scriptures, it is the two witness of Rev 11:3-6.

          There is so much more that can be said but I have to stop and this is as good a place as any.

    • On the narrow point of the destruction of the wicked:

      But when men pass the limits of divine forbearance, that restraint is removed. God does not stand toward the sinner as an executioner of the sentence against transgression; but he leaves the rejecters of his mercy to themselves, to reap that which they have sown.” – Great Controversy, p. 36

      The Bible has many ways of describing the wrath of God against sin. One of these ways is a "giving up" or "turning away", not just fire and brimstone.
      There are many other Ellen White statements that are similar.
      (Of course there are other ways to describe the destruction of the wicked. You can find some here: )

      Maxwell's larger point is this:

      Sin has it's own intrinsic consequences. To state that sin's only consequences comes from God would be to agree with the serpent that sin has no real bad effects.
      Put another way, this is to imply that nothing is wrong with sin and that the only problem with it is that God just has a problem with it and furthermore that if God would just leave us to do whatever we please nothing will happen.
      Or put another way, that is to say that "ye shall not surely die" but rather "ye shall be as gods".

      • Andrew, I would say that everyone on the short end of any sinful act would agree with God on the sinfulness of sin. All agree that sin brings it's own consequences, but God has promised to take action against sinners at last. They simply are not shown to self-destruct unless it is they who actually bring the fire from heaven upon themselves(Rev 20:9), even though it was their choice to receive the wages. We could quote Ellen on the details couldn't we? Why do some seem afraid of what Scripture (and Ellen) makes clear?

        While those who hate wisdom love(invite) death, We see God bringing this end to pass. Saying God will "cut off" sinners does not place the blame for their death on Him. The executioner is not the reason for the convict's death, he only fulfills the sentence pronounced by the just law, and only does what even the criminal has to expect. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and is not willing any should perish. This should settle the whole idea of anger, vengeance and God as a tyrant. Any loving parent knows the difficulty of exacting punishment, though it will instruct the wise.

        Who has taught about sin not having it's own consequences? All my life in this church and I've never heard it mentioned. None have said God threatened Adam. Once we figure out what each other is arguing about, we realize we all agree already. Don't we? Does not Jesus say He brings to all their final reward according to their works? (Rev 22:12, Eccl 12:14, Matt 25:41) It was THEIR works that they choose against God's constant entreaties and efforts to save them from folly. His greatest argument was His perfect law and how Jesus lived it fully and died for us who did not always live it fully.

        • What I am insisting on is the idea that sin doesn't merely have unspecified "consequences" but that it principal consequence is death itself due to how it separates creation from its life source.

          We can arrive here several ways:

          We can ask how did Jesus die? Did the Father kill Him?

          We can ask whether or not "ye shall surely die" means "I'll kill you if you disobey me"?

          Ultimately I'm studiously interested in avoiding saying that the problem with sin is God. The problem with sin is sin itself.

          P.S. Just as an addendum. With a different view, God's presence is a consuming fire that saints can dwell in without being harmed. Sinners, however, are destroyed by it.

        • Andrew, how do you answer your own questions?

          No one can truly question whether or not sin has it's own consequences as we live in a world where evidence is overwhelming. I think that God is cleared of all wrong by now and if the Bible is our study there is no reason to keep wondering. No one in the discussion has insisted God wants revenge, but the Bible shows He must do something in the end. I believe the God of the dark ages vanished when the Two Witnesses were raised up to heaven. What seems to have happened is the pendulum has swung the other way with some, and we must be careful how far we take it.

          If the truth is not with it's true balance, it is no longer truth.

    • I just noticed someone posting this on Facebook:

      "We are not to regard God
      as waiting to punish the sinner for his sin.
      The sinner brings the punishment upon himself.
      His own actions start a train of circumstances
      that bring the sure result.
      Every act of transgression reacts upon the sinner,
      works in him a change of character,
      and makes it more easy for him to transgress again.
      By choosing to sin,
      men separate themselves from God,
      cut themselves off from the channel of blessing,
      and the sure result is ruin and death."
      -EGW, Letter 96, 1896

      Haven't had time to look it up to give the URL. But this is very much in line with what Maxwell teaches.

  4. There are those who are apparently offended by warning, and then there are those who appreciate its merit.

    Someone said, "The track of truth lies close beside the track of error, and both tracks may seem to be one to minds which are not worked by the Holy Spirit, and which, therefore, are not quick to discern the difference between truth and error."

    Discernment is priceless is a discussion such as this. And the Holy Spirit is the one who provides this.

  5. Hammering a point which supposedly makes the opposing side/argument look weakest does gain mileage. However acknowledging the weaknesses of our own position in the face of revelation and inspiration counts for a greater weight of eternal value.

    The Holy Spirit can do far more with the poor in spirit and the confessed weak one than those sure of their footing, not realizing they have built on sand.

  6. It should be noted that the title of Graham Maxwell's sermon, "The Most Costly and Convincing Evidence" refers to Christ's death on the cross being "the most costly and convincing evidence" in favor of the loving character of God. It demonstrated that God is both loving and trustworthy.

    In his words to Eve, the deceiver suggested that God is not trustworthy - that He lied about the consequences of disobedience (sin). And by the same token, he implied that God is not loving - that He was trying to withhold some good thing from them. From that we can extrapolate that he used similar arguments with the angels, thus persuading 1/3 of them to side with him against God.

    Maxwell challenges us to think about the central conflict in the great controversy between Christ and Satan. He believes it is ultimately about the character of God. Is He loving and trustworthy, or is He self-centered and arbitrary?

    What do you see as the central issue in the great controversy?

    (It would be helpful to watch the video, including the Questions and Answers at the end before replying.)

    • We cannot read very far in the Bible without seeing a common thread woven throughout it's sacred pages; the Love of God. It is broken down into finer descriptions in passages such as Exodus 34:6,7 just as a prism reveals the various hues contained in the light. From the white linen curtain that surrounded the sanctuary, it's altar of sacrifice where the sinner was freed of all guilt, walking away "faultless", the bleeding victim and eventually coming to the mercy seat sprinkled with sinless blood, we see the love of God being displayed for sinners. If God can love a world in rebellion like this, how much more likely that He would love all His creatures?

      Satan created a controversy with lies, and was defeated at the cross through by the evidence of how "God so loved the world". It seems the central issue in God's reckoning has something to do with this. No argument, only demonstration.

  7. I would be interested in anyone's thoughtrs regarding...
    Romans 13:1 ¶ Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
    2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
    3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
    4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
    5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
    6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

    The justice system (the police, the courts etc) according to Paul are God's ministeres to execute justice upon the criminals in our society who without such restraint would literally 'egt away with murde'.
    What part do we play? Do we have a role (apart from paying taxes) in this? What kind of balance is there between placing offenders before the courts for their crimes and forgiveness? Or can forgiveness accomodate justice? What if we are offended against ourselves how far do we go in seeking justice through the court system?

  8. God has to kill in the end if his kingdom is that of Roman based law. Why would he have to kill since the law of love is a natural law like law of gravity, law of thermo-dynamics, law of respiration. In natural law, if you step outside of it, you die. In the law of love, if you step outside of it, you die. Grace has existed since Satan sinned otherwise he would have been destroyed by stepping outside of the law of love. I believe Ellen refers to this. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. Look what happened during the dark ages with the imposed law belief system.

  9. the infection of thought within Christianity that has taught a legal religion, with penal substitutionary plan also obstructs God’s plan because people are not seeking the indwelling Spirit for renewal and recreation, instead they are seeking to have legal pardon, their debt paid, their sins covered, to be hidden from the Father by the robe of Christ’s righteousness etc. All of which if thought about functions to keep the sinner in their sin--Tim Jennings

  10. This question is a controversial question. In Islam, muslims believe Jesus (peace be on him) did not die and he is coming in the last time.

  11. Jesus didn't say my God why are you killing me He said why have you left me. He didn't die from the cross but from a broken heart because He was separated from the Father. Sin separates us from God who is the source of all life. The devil(who left God) is sustained by the God even now according to Ms. White. WOW He keeps his enemy alive.
    It is God that is the giver of life, who like a parent calls us to the dinner table and asks us to sit and partake of the lifesaving meal He has prepared or us. When we fail to come at His call, he goes to find us as he said in the parable of the lost sheep, coin and son. And even more amazing He continues to call those whom we pray for. Who could ask for more?

    • Nothing in scripture says that God killed Jesus, and instead, we see in the types and shadows that the sinner always took the life of the sin offering. This should settle the question for good. We don't have any example of the priest or God taking the life of the sin offering for the sinner, and instead we see Him providing and accepting the innocent victim for the otherwise hopeless sinner. On the Day of Atonement, the sacrifice is not a sin offering, but a propitiation; meaning that the death was satisfying to God because it was sinless and provides righteousness (a cover, see Zech 3:3-5) for the sinner who accepts it by bringing a sin offering before the Day of Atonement. It is through repentance that we obtain the righteousness offered in Christ's sinless life. (see Revelation 3:18,19)

      As for how sinners will die, we have many passages of scripture that tell us God will "cut off" sinners forever. We are not told in detail how that will take place other than by "fire from heaven". In Ezekiel God tells the fallen Lucifer; "Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee."

      This, along with other passages such as 2 Peter 3:12 and Revelation 20:9 tell us God's intention and actions. What we learn from these must not take away from the merciful and gracious intentions and actions that God has made more than evident since the fall of man. We must conclude that Lucifer was also offered such mercy and grace as well prior to his ultimate refusal of God's mercy.

      From these Bible truths we gain a balanced understanding without every detail needing to be described. God will purify that which was defiled and restore all things again in the manner of His choosing. He is sovereign.

      • Hi Robert,

        I believe that in your comment you follow up the "propitiation" regarding satisfying God with it providing a "cover." Of course that's not the way most people interpret "propitiation," and that's why Maxwell said it was an unfortunate translation. The original word for the "mercy seat" was actually "cover," and Luther coined the "mercy seat" expression, according to Maxwell. Luther then used the same expression in the place that the English translators used "propitiation."

        By what you write, I should think that you would readily agree with Maxwell that "cover" is a translation more in line with what the Bible teaches (and it is also a linguistically legitimate translation), since you yourself refer to Christ's death as providing a "cover."

        • Propitiation or mercy-seat?

          I see propitiate and mercy-seat as giving the very same expression, so we cannot trade one for the other and say anything differently. They are not different in their meanings if we understand how the mercy seat works. It is a lid until sprinkled with blood. We only find it acknowledged on the Day of Atonement. The very word "Atonement" and the blood should tell us something very important.

          We have to see how the blood allows God to exercise mercy against rebels, but only if they too accept the blood by repenting of their rebellious ways. The blood propitiates/satisfies/appeases all parties involved: 1)God can offer mercy, 2)Man is reconciled to God and by His goodness is led to repent, 3)Satan's accusations are shown to be false.

          The blood alone does this. It is not a mercy seat without the blood, and remains but a lid without it.

          Now we have to look at what this means in the light of God's word, which clearly reveals God offering "peace on earth, and good will toward men" through Jesus. God is not angry and does not need to be "appeased" on our account. This is the false idea I must protest along with Maxwell. (Read Gill's commentary on this verse (Rom 3:25) and notice his thoughts on God's "anger". It doesn't exist towards sinners whom "God so loved...") The clear language of the Bible is "God is love" from creation to restoration and remains consistent during the whole interval between the two.

          Let's think about this; God gave man His law engraved upon stone, and had them shelter it in the Ark of the Covenant, wrapped in the middle of the sanctuary and all it's wonderful truths about God who is "merciful, gracious, longsuffering...forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin" toward the fallen race. Who then, would counter this evidence by suggesting God is angry? Only those who either don't understand the types, symbols and daily evidences of God's love, or those trying to make others believe a lie. The Gospel is the answer for both and those who would accuse God of anger are silenced by the blood-stained mercy seat. The language is clear; it was God who "set Him forth [to be] a propitiation...". It seems God was speaking for Himself and this is the meaning of John 3:16, which Maxwell excluded from his note sheet citing it was inadequate to show "why" Jesus had to die. But isn't it actually very clear from that verse? Jesus had to die because God so loves us. There was no other way to clear us of guilt except to abandon His law, but "the Law of the Lord is Perfect". So God did the only other possible thing, and gave all for us. Love is giving, and God gave.

          Can we give in return?

  12. I tried unsuccessfully to watch the video. It is private and needs a passcode. Can you share it with me please?


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