Ben always calls from wherever he is to say he’s on his way home. One day, when our son was a baby, I said to him, “Daddy’s coming! Daddy’s coming!” And it struck me, that that is how I feel about Jesus’ soon return. Expectant. Excited. Relieved. At ease. Safe.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Growing up Adventist the feeling was more like the proverbial warning, “Just WAIT ’til your father gets here!” or the rush to “hurry up and clean up! Daddy is on his way!”
The song (by the Heralds) was a solemn warning, not a jubilant hymn of praise and expectation.
“The Lord is coming, are you ready?
The Lord is coming, are you ready?
Would your heart be right, if He came tonight?
The Lord is coming, are you ready?”
So here I am, growing up, observing people. Picture with me the holiest lady in church. She opens her mouth and she’s usually saying something about “if” when she talks about her salvation. “If I remain faithful,” “If the Lord is willing,” “If I don’t stay close to Him, I may not make it up there.”
My thoughts: “If this lady who has lived 80 years going to church every time the church doors open, eating vegan, handing out tracts at the bus stop, living an above-and-beyond pious, humble, unenviable life, is still wondering, at age 89, if she will be fit for heaven, then I will never make it. Cause I ain’t her and I will never be her.”
I was assured that you didn’t have to be “like that” to make it to heaven, but yet her answer to “The Lord is coming, are you ready,” is still, “I don’t know.” If she can’t know, how could I ever know?
But now I know. Am I ready? Heck yeah!
Are you kidding me? Ready to see my Savior face to face? To worship Him LIVE? To be in awe of Him? To see who I’ve been talking to all this time? To thank Him for ordering my life so that I could be the wife of Ben McPhaull and the mother of Maxton, Maxwelle and Maxine? Are you kidding me? Yeah, I’m ready! (And it’s not because I think I’m good enough, btw).
That day fills me with hope and if I don’t live to see it, I’ll get to be in His presence even sooner! (Philippians 1)
But back to the “Are you ready?” message. Even though Adventists will NEVER admit that they preach salvation by works, the whole concept of “Are you ready?” denotes exactly that. (It begs the question, “What do I need to do to be ready?”) This approach is often used by SDA evangelists to induce feelings of inadequacy in their members and even in Christians who may be attending their meetings. (This question is irrelevant to the unchurched, un-Christian who neither knows Jesus nor cares if He’s coming, much less if he is ready.)
If you ask an SDA what it takes to “be ready,” you’ll probably hear some variation of “Accept Jesus as your Savior and keep the 10 commandments (including the 4th). If you sin (defined as not keeping the 10 commandments) you must ask for forgiveness.”
The Bible says (emphases mine):
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me HAVE eternal life. They will NEVER be condemned for their sins, but they have ALREADY passed from death into life.” – John 5:24
35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But youhaven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will NEVER reject them. 38For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should NOT LOSE even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and BELIEVE IN HIM should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” – John 6:35-40.
8 God SAVED YOU by his grace WHEN YOU BELIEVED. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is NOT A REWARD for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. – Ephesians 2:8,9
21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are MADE RIGHT WITH GOD BY PLACING OUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24Yet God, with undeserved kindness, DECLARES THAT WE ARE RIGHTEOUS. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. PEOPLE ARE MADE RIGHT WITH GOD WHEN THEY BELIEVE that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and HE DECLARES SINNERS TO BE RIGHT IN HIS SIGHT WHEN THEY BELIEVE IN JESUS. -Romans 3:21-26
Therefore, there is now NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1,2
I have friends who think the Investigative Judgment is some theological concept debated by theologians and pastors. It’s way over their heads, out of their realm of interest and above their pay grade. Believing it has no implications in their everyday spiritual lives, they dismiss any challenges to it, yet keep believing it. This whole post is a living-color example of how this belief plays out in every day life. And I didn’t make it up all in my head. To be fair, no SDA would deny the texts above, yet they simultaneously believe and internalize what Ellen G. White wrote in the Great Controversy. She spells it all out. Check it. (emphases mine)
- Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.
The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment.
- Those who in the judgment are “accounted worthy” will have a part in the resurrection of the just.
- As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance.
- All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven;as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life.
- Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God. He may have committed his evil deeds in the light of day or in the darkness of night; but they were open and manifest before Him with whom we have to do. Angels of God witnessed each sin and registered it in the unerring records. Sin may be concealed, denied, covered up from father, mother, wife, children, and associates; no one but the guilty actors may cherish the least suspicion of the wrong; but it is laid bare before the intelligences of heaven. The darkness of the darkest night, the secrecy of all deceptive arts, is not sufficient to veil one thought from the knowledge of the Eternal. God has an exact record of every unjust account and every unfair dealing. He is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistakes in His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life.
How solemn is the thought! Day after day, passing into eternity, bears its burden of records for the books of heaven. Words once spoken, deeds once done, can never be recalled. Angels have registered both the good and the evil. The mightiest conqueror upon the earth cannot call back the record of even a single day. Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Though they may be forgotten by us, they will bear their testimony to justify or condemn.(All quotes taken from Great Controversy chapter titled, “Facing Life’s Record.”)
It’s no wonder the senile old lady wasn’t sure if she was going to make it! What if she forgot to confess one sin?
Do you sometimes wonder if you WILL be saved?
Do you ever think about what else you need to change or improve in order to be ready?
Are you secure that you’re good enough and “safe to save.”
Neither of these positions is biblical.
When you accept Jesus as your Savior, it’s a done deal. You can KNOW you are saved. There’s no UNDO button. His blood covers ALL of your sins, past, present and future, not just the ones for which you remembered to ask forgiveness.
None of your righteous deeds can add to what Jesus did on the Cross or better secure or insure your salvation. It’s all Jesus. He calls. He draws. He saves. He keeps. He comes back. He gets the glory.
Believe it. Are you ready?