In response to the cover feature “God Is . . .?” by Joseph Olstad (May 15, 2014): I have appreciated Graham Maxwell’s and Tim Jennings’ picture of God for the past 14 years. The kind of God we worship and admire determines how we perceive and treat others.
After misunderstanding God’s law and His use of law for so many years, I can’t begin to tell of the relief of having such a burden of a judgmental and critical spirit lifted by their healing and life-transforming message. We are all sin-damaged; we all struggle; and we all need each other. God is on Tim Jennings’ side, as well as on Joseph Olstad’s, having both their eternal interests at heart.
God has stepped in, especially during Old Testament times, to put thousands of His children to “sleep,” taking them out of time and suspending them in time. He will resurrect each of them in one of two resurrections with the very same characters with which they went into their graves. All 12 gates to the New Jerusalem are open (Rev. 21:25; 20:9; Isa. 60:11) for any in that multitude to enter if they so choose.
I enjoyed reading “God Is . . . ?” There is evidence of much thought and research in the article. The reference to thinking that God is only our Friend and not our Judge reminds me of the current and popular movie, “Heaven is for Real.”
Of course, we have to always consider the whole Bible, and balance it against itself.
Deptford, New Jersey
Thank you for publishing the article by Joseph Olstad. Olstad reveals a thorough knowledge of his subject and portrays a balanced biblical view of the atonement. The comprehensive list he provides of metaphors for sin and salvation, with examples from the Bible, is helpful in demonstrating the complexity of the matter, showing why no single paradigm is satisfactory to adequately represent the nature of the atonement.
Those who don’t understand why God would execute retributive justice on the wicked, or on His own Son in place of those who desire to be saved in Christ’s kingdom, fail to understand the heinousness of sin in the sight of the rest of the universe. Other beings want sin to be fully eradicated. The nature of the covenant, in which God claims to be our rock, defender, and avenger, makes Him the One we should trust to bring justice and equity (Deut. 32:36-43).
God is clear about His responsibilities, and what He will do to avenge the wrongs against His people. The universe will hold Him accountable if He does not fulfill His promises. The statement of the covenant ends with these words: “Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people” (Duet. 32:43).
The book of Revelation portrays in detail how this will play out. The cry of the martyrs in Revelation 6:10 is answered in Revelation 15-20, explicitly detailed in 19:1, 2, but finally culminating in 20:12, 13. For a scholarly explanation of the relation of all this to the covenant, see Joel N. Musvosvi, Vengeance in the Apocalypse, Andrews University Seminary Doctoral Dissertation Series, vol. 17 (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1993).
God and the Gentiles
Congratulations to Ronald Rojas and Adventist Review for the outstanding article, “Mission to the Gentiles” (May 22, 2014). The exceptionally well-written material refreshingly reminds us that God not only communicates through the inspired Scriptures, He also reveals divine truth through observable spiritual experiences occurring within the body of Christ.
To its credit, the thoughtful, well-balanced article is careful to emphasize that observable spiritual experiences must be subject to the testing of prior revelation as found in Scripture, and be subject to evaluation and scrutiny by those of established experience in ministry and church leadership. This helps to identify the deceptive and counterfeit spiritual experiences that we know Satan has manifested in the past, and will endeavor to manifest in the future with even greater power as we approach the last days.
I hope that Rojas will bless Review readers with additional articles of the same caliber.
I’m writing to thank Clifford Goldstein for his article “A Wonderful and Terrible Truth” (May 15, 2014). Free choice is what it’s all about.
Sin is a free choice. God will not allow one person who does not want to sin to be “made” to sin. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).
Sin will be destroyed. Those who, with their “free will” continue to sin will be destroyed, no matter how much God loves them (Heb. 10:26). The sacrifice of Christ cannot save one who continues in sin. Only those who truly, freely, accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and obey His teaching to be perfect, stop sinning, and keep the Ten Commandments will earn their reward of eternal life. All others will earn their reward of eternal death (Rev. 22:12). Let us freely “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
Lucerne Valley, California
There have been times in my life when I have longed to be a “robot” in my daily decision to walk with Jesus and grow in that relationship with Him. If only so much didn’t rest on the decisions I make, or don’t make, every day. If He would only make me do what is right and according to His will for me.
I read Clifford Goldstein’s “A Wonderful and Terrible Truth” with much emotion. It spoke to my heart about those times when having free choice seems so scary. It reminded me how much God loves all of us by giving this wonderful gift, and how much it cost heaven.
These comments pertain to “The 11:00 Hour” by Stephen Chavez Apr. 10, 2014):
Chavez made a number of good points. He quotes a statement by Michael Kelly, senior pastor of the Mount Rubidoux Adventist Church, “We’re talking about things people care about.” He said that the sermon is about being relevant. That is interesting, and I think true.
There is, however, one problem with this philosophy: What people want to hear is possibly not what they need to hear. I have only heard one Seventh-day Adventist sermon in the last nine years. The same can be said for popular Adventist pastors in our large churches who appear on television. Almost all these sermons could have been preached in any Protestant church. None are sermons that preach the three angels’ messages, last day events, or doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
This is a sad commentary. What are our pastors doing to get their congregations ready for the end of time? It is coming soon, and our pastors have to wake their congregations to this fact.
More About Jesus
Thanks to Kimberly Luste Maran for sharing such critical and practical spiritual advice with us in her insightful editorial, “Missing Jesus” (Apr. 10, 2014). We dare not navigate through these times of Satan’s deceptions without making prayer, Bible study, and living His Word a top priority!