At GYC 2016 in Houston, TX, I was asked to present a brief eight-minute presentation on “Why I believe in righteousness by faith”. Click on the video below to jump right to the presentation. It goes from 24:12-33:14
I recently finished reading the book ‘The Desire Of Ages’ by the inspired author Ellen G. White. I must say it has truly been a blessing to read this for my morning devotions. She gives us a wonderful insight into the life and work of Jesus, while He was here on Earth. If you want to know more about Jesus, this book is a must-read! And I can recommend to read it together with the account given in the gospels.
While I was reading about how Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom of God and how He tried to show them what his work on Earth really was all about, besides gaining lots of practical applications for my life, I also more and more identified myself with the disciple Peter.
He is the active one, the one who always opens his mouth, the one who is very eager to ‘do’ something. He is the sanguine leader-type-of guy.
We can see this clearly when he said to Jesus: “Though they all [speaking of the other disciples] fall away because of you, I will never fall away … Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!“ – Matthew 26:33.35
Or later in the garden Gethsemane, where He was actually ready to kill for Jesus.
Mrs. White describes him like this:
“Peter was always speaking unadvisedly, from the impulse of the moment. He was always ready to correct others, and to express his mind, before he had a clear comprehension of himself or of what he had to say.” (DA, p.814)
This was the Peter before his fall. Before he betrayed his Master.
So, why can I identify with Peter so well?
The answer is easy. I am also a sanguine person.
I get ‘on-fire’ for things really fast, if they seem to be important and I speak up if necessary. So I can totally understand Peter’s enthusiasm. It’s not fake. He is not pretending to be enthusiastic. He really was convinced but also he really wasn’t converted.
And that is also why Peter’s story is so appealing and so full of hope for me.
I had to go through the same process as Peter. I always believed in God. I knew that the Adventist faith made sense and was the truth. I could have signed the 28 fundamental beliefs without a problem. But still, I wasn’t converted.
And this is a dangerous position to be in. Not only for the sake of your eternal life, but also because of the influence you have on the people around you.
You see, if you know the truth, but don’t live it motivated by the love to Jesus as God, you become a hypocrite.
And a sanguine hypocrite is even worse!
Eventually I ended up denying Jesus. Not in the same way as Peter did, but by constant, conscious turning away from Jesus. To God be the glory, He didn’t give up on me. Just like He didn’t give up on Peter.
I hit black-bottom. Myself disgusted me.
Writing about Peter, right after denying Christ, the prophetess says: “He reflected with horror upon his own ingratitude, his falsehood, his perjury” (DA, p.713)
This was the point when Jesus took over. This was the point when Peter and I finally gave in to Jesus and gave it all to Him. Repentance. Conversion.
Let’s read what happened to Peter afterwards:
“The converted Peter was very different. He retained his former fervor, but the grace of Christ regulated his zeal. He was no longer impetuous, self-confident, and self-exalted, but calm, self-possessed, and teachable.” (DA, p.814)
It is the grace of Christ, which changes a stubborn sinful person and makes him a teachable one.
Humbled, I praise God for doing the same work today still.
Later, after Jesus’ resurrection He and his disciples met at the Sea of Galilee. There Jesus asked Peter three times ‘Peter, do you love me?’
In the same way Jesus is asking every person that claims to be a follower of Him: “Do you love me?”
He is asking you and me now: “Do you love me?”.
Peter, with the fullness of his heart said ‘Yes!’.
But what was the difference? How was his verbalized faithfulness to Jesus different than to that one time when he claimed, that he would rather die with Jesus than to deny Him? This was the difference: Peter, now really knew who Jesus was.
Check this out:
“Heretofore Peter had known Christ after the flesh, as many know Him now; but he was no more to be thus limited. He knew Him no more as he had known Him in his association with Him in humanity. He had loved Him as a man, as a heaven-sent teacher; he now loved Him as God. He had been learning the lesson that to him Christ was all in all.” (DA, p.815)
Peter now knew Jesus as God.
And now he was finally ready to work in God’s mission field.
Peter and I, and I am sure many others, had to learn this the hard way.
It all comes down to knowing Jesus as God through repentance and conversion. Once this happens, you will gladly put self aside in order to let the Holy Spirit work on your heart. Then, there is no limit to the usefulness of you in the work of God for this lost planet.
Til this day I cannot see a better way of living life, than to live with God as the Leader.
Do you have a hardened heart?
A complicated personality?
A sinful character?
Give it to the Healer today and He will change you.
Maybe you are also a Peter, a John, a Paul or a Judas. Come to Jesus and accept His grace. It’s overflowing and waiting for you.
To be able to say “I love you” to Jesus because you know Him as God, is the most beautiful thing, because it reflects a life changed by God.
Don’t hesitate anymore.