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3. Understanding the Purposes of God

Phil Mills Sr.

Presenter

Phil Mills Sr.

Dermatologist in Northern Georgia

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Conference

Recorded

  • June 19, 2017
    10:00 AM
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Luke 11:9 “Seek and you will find.” We don’t have to wonder if we seek for souls whether we will find souls. God has promised that if you join God’s search for souls, we will find them.

 

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

 

There are three things we must understand to be prepared for the crisis. We must understand the character of God. We must understand the government of God. We must understand the purposes of God. To save us, God takes that out of our lives which destroys us—sin. God’s problem is that we love sin even though it destroys us.

 

Jesus prayed that God’s will be done in earth as it is in heaven. God’s government brings peace and happiness in heaven and God’s government brings peace and happiness to our lives, to our homes and to our churches.

 

But now we come to the third area that we must understand to be prepared for the end time—God’s purpose. Why did Jesus come into the world? What was His purpose? What is the purpose for me to be in this world? Jesus came to this world to seek and to save the lost. Paul understood this. He said Jesus came to this world to save sinners of whom I am chief. Jesus reminded us of this in the three parables found in Luke 15.

 

In the first parable, a shepherd had a flock of a hundred sheep. One of the sheep wandered away. The shepherd left the fold and searched through the night until the lost sheep was found. Who does the shepherd represent? It represents Jesus but it also is a picture that God is painting of you the more you become like Him. If we are like Him, we will look like Him and it’s a biography God wants to be of you.

 

In the next story, a woman had ten valuable coins but one was misplaced. She sought diligently for the lost coin throughout the house and finally found it. What does the woman represent? Jesus and His church. But it represents me as a member of the church, becoming more like Jesus and it’s a biography of me that Jesus wants to be a biography of me and of you, a second biography.

 

The third story Jesus told was of a father that had two sons. One left home with a rich inheritance which he proceeded to squander. At last alone and penniless, with a famine in the land, he was reduced to feeding pigs and wishing he had the pig food. He returned to his father. Who does the father represent? God. But the more that you are like Him, the more it is a picture of you, the biography God wants to be of you, one that brings and welcomes wanderers home.

 

The shepherd represents Jesus and those who are like Him. God wants us to picture ourselves as that shepherd. Did you fail or did you succeed in finding the lost sheep? When we are like Jesus, God wants us to know that in working with Him we succeed. We find souls.

 

Was the lost coin found? Yes. And God wants us to picture ourselves that woman, the church searching the home for the lost coin. Did you as a member of the church fail or did you find the lost coin? Some are frustrated that they do not have success immediately finding a soul, finding that lost coin. But the story doesn’t say that she found the coin immediately. She searched in this corner and it wasn’t there.  Could she have stopped in discouragement and say, “I guess I’ll never find it!” She searched in that corner and didn’t find it. Could she have stopped the search? Yes. But she swept. She looked everywhere and finally, she found the coin. If we continue to search for souls, we will find a soul for Jesus.

 

Is seeking the lost a successful venture? Thank God, yes. “Seek and you shall find.” Matthew 7:7, 8. Luke 19:10-- “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” When we are like Him, what will be our purpose in life? To seek and save that which is lost.

 

Why did Jesus come to this earth? Why did He leave the comforts and support of heaven? Why did He become a helpless babe, dependent on His step-father and His mother? To seek and to save that which was lost. Why did Jesus grow up in a home with older step-brothers and sisters that could not really appreciate His message and sometimes mistreated Him cruelly? To seek and save that which was lost. Why did He allow others to treat Him cruelly and abuse Him? Why did He let a disciple deny Him? Why did He let His disciple betray Him? To seek and to save that which was lost. Why did He quietly allow the Jewish leaders to condemn Him and the Roman governor to crucify Him? To seek and to save that which was lost. Not only does Jesus give us the privilege of being saved but when we are saved, we join Jesus in His search and rescue operation.

 

Eva Hart could never forget the night of April 15, 1912. She was a passenger on the Titanic which plunged 12,000 feet to the Atlantic floor some two hours 40 minutes after an ice berg tore a 300-foot gash in the starboard side. “I saw all the horror of it sinking and I heard what was more dreadful—the cries of the drowning people,” she reported. About 20 life boats and rafts were launched—too few and only partly filled, most of the passengers ended up struggling in the icy sea while those in the boats waited a safe distance away. Life boat number 14 did row back to the scene after the unsinkable ship slipped from sight at 2:20 a.m. Alone, it chased in the dark the cries, seeking and saving a precious few. Incredibly, not one of the other 19 life boats joined in. Some were already overloaded. But in virtually every other boat those already saved rowed their half-filled boat aimlessly in the night, listening to the cries of the lost. Why didn’t the other life boats seek to rescue other drowning victims? Each feared a crush of unknown swimmers would cling to their craft, eventually swamping them. What could have changed the actions of the other people in the life boats?

 

When I was nearly six years old, my dad became pastor of the Madison College Church. There was a sanitarium and hospital on the college campus and every Sabbath afternoon, my dad, my mother, my sister and I would go to the hospital and there, my dad would read an encouraging text from the Scripture to patients. We would go from room to room and then our family would sing songs and then my daddy would pray and patients loved it.

 

I remember one patient, Julie Holmes. She and her husband lived in Nashville in a little home that caught fire one night when they were sleeping. Julie had two children. The youngest was an infant in the crib. When Julie woke up, the smoke and flames were already filling the house but forgetting the danger, Julie the mother rushed into her children’s room and helped the older child who was able to run for safety with his father. But the crib for the baby was in the corner. Flames were licking at it by the time she got to her baby. The room was very hot and already the baby’s blanket and the bed clothes were on fire but love made her fearless. Bending over, she grabbed the baby, trying to smother the flames as she fled from the house. The burning ceiling collapsed on her and her own clothes and skin caught fire. She was burning as she emerged from the house and the fireman rolled her in the ground to stop the flames. Her children were saved but she was left with fearful burns and nearly died. As she recovered, she didn’t even care about the burns. She was only happy that she had saved her children. This was the reason that Jesus was willing to endure the cross. This is the reason there’re the scars for saving me.

 

Years ago at ASI, I was asked to be one of the doctors on call when I got a text message that there was an ill patient in one of the rooms. I started to walk towards the elevator when an ER doctor ran by. As he passed, he yelled to me to follow him as there was a baby that was choking. I started to follow him but didn’t run that hard. When I looked at the text again to see where the baby was located, it was then that I noticed that the baby was in room 547. That was the room that my grandchildren were in. What a difference that made! Suddenly, I began to run harder than the ER doctor. I didn’t wait at the elevator. I went leaping up the stairs and reached the room before the elevator. What made the difference? Love. I didn’t stop until I was at their room. There my grand-daughter was choking, barely able to breathe. How grateful we were to get the oxygen equipment to remove the plastic that she had choked on and was now obstructing her air way and could have caused her death. How determined I was to get the life-threating obstruction out.

 

Love gives us urgency and takes away our fear. Love is what Jesus has. He seeks to remove the obstructions that are killing us. But there is another important point we shouldn’t miss. Who were the lost that Jesus came to seek and to save?  

 

Psalm 119:176 “I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Seek your servant for I do not forget Your commandments.” According to this verse, who has gone astray? I, a commandment-keeper, have gone astray. Straying commandment-keepers are part of the lost sheep Jesus came to seek and save.

 

Lots of times I have thought of the lost as “them.” Have you ever thought of “they” as the lost? They are the lost sheep. They are the lost coin. They are the prodigal son and that is true but it is only half of the truth. When I read about the lost sheep who went astray, who else is the lost sheep? I am. When I read about the lost coin, who else is the lost coin? I am. And when I read about the prodigal son, who else is the prodigal son? I am the prodigal son. You see, today, the three parables of Jesus is a biography of me. He wants the shepherd, He wants the woman seeking the coin, He wants the father welcoming the son to someday be my biography but today I am the lost sheep; I am the lost coin; I am the prodigal son. It tells about how I am lost and about how I am found.


Look at Psalm 119:176 again. How is the sheep lost? Sheep are lost by going astray. The Lord is my Shepherd. He leads me the still waters. He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. He is the good Shepherd but I am the straying sheep. I get lost because I go astray. But Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost.

 

How do I go astray? Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned everyone to his own way.” God has a way—the path of righteousness but what do I go astray to? My own way. “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Instead of following my Shepherd, I have followed myself, my desires, my inclination. My own way is iniquity. Who went astray in Isaiah 53? “All we”—everyone, the iniquity of “us all”. It begins with all. It ends in all. When I read about the lost sheep, who is the lost sheep? I am.

 

In Psalm 119:176, we saw that the commandment-keepers go astray. What is a commandment-keeper? A commandment-keeper is someone who believes in the Ten Commandments. A commandment-keeper is someone who values the Ten Commandments. A commandment-keeper is a Sabbath-keeper. What is one important way that commandment-keepers go astray?

 

1 Timothy 1:5, 6—“Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.” According to 1 Timothy 1:5, what is one purpose of the commandment? Love. We go astray when we lose our first love. We go astray when we serve God with ulterior motives, not a pure heart. We go astray when we have a faith that is based on man’s traditions instead of God’s Word. Have we all done this? Yes. But Jesus, precious Jesus, invites us to return to the paths of righteousness. He invites us to become fully His. He invites us to quit wandering astray. Did Jesus come to save the lost within the church? Jesus came to seek us, not just them. He came to save me, not just you. And I am so grateful for that, aren’t you?

 

Perhaps you saw the news about the Adult Club in Nashville, that it had purchased a new facility in North Nashville—Madison actually, between two churches and next door to a large Christian academy. There was a huge neighbourhood outcry and the zoning laws (this was a couple of years ago) were actually changed locally and even state-wide and the club was not going to be legal. So the club announced that they had been converted and they have become a church. They changed the name of the dance room to fellowship hall. They had the choir loft. Of course there was an outcry against them. The neighbourhood was outraged. A church, just a front for evil! Putting a holy God on unholy practices but they continued to operate on this pretence for two years and they continued operating there to this day as a church. Are there lost within that church? But this illustrates that within the church are the lost. It is not the name we profess but the character we possess that matters. Is God interested in us keeping our unholy character but taking His name in the church?  Is God interested in me saying, “I am a Seventh-Day Adventist. I am a Christian” but I have hidden away that which is just a masquerade for iniquity and idolatry and sin?

 

When we go astray, where do we end up? Feeling bewildered and helpless. We are trapped and don’t know how to get out of the situation. Jesus specializes in hopeless cases. It came to pass when Jesus was in a certain city (Luke 5 tells us) behold, a man full of leprosy, who seeing Jesus, fell on his face and besought Him, saying, “Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou can make me clean.” And He put forth His hand and touched him, saying, “I will. Be thou clean” and immediately the leprosy departed from him.” I am so thankful that Dr Luke put a clinical description of the case of leprosy in the gospels. This was a man, according to Dr Luke, full of leprosy. Could this man cure himself? Could the doctors around cure him? No, but Jesus could and Jesus was willing. And when I come to Jesus, sinful as I am, can Jesus remove the darkest stain of sin? Yes. When I am full of leprosy, He can take that leprosy away.

 

My mother was a single mother when her husband left her the day my step-brother was born. He never returned. She didn’t even know where to find him. It wasn’t easy being a single mother in the 1940s. My mother told me, “Phil, you will never understand the feeling of helplessness, trapped with no apparent way out.” Somehow, mother as a child, was exposed to Bible truth from an itinerant Seventh-Day Adventist itinerant who was friend with her parents. She didn’t know much about Adventist beliefs but on the basis of this limited exposure, as a young child, mother was convicted that the SDAs taught the truth and if anybody asked her what her religion would be, she would say, “I am a SDA.” She had never gone to the church. She didn’t know what they believe but did believe that they taught the truth. She tried attending a SDA church in a city where she worked. She knew that the SDAs did not wear makeup and jewelry, so she decided to wear jewelry so that they would know that she was a visitor and not a SDA and she hoped that someone would invite her to study the Bible and find out more about SDA truths. But there was no search and rescue team in operation at the church. There was only a superficial greeting and a handshake.  No one sought for her soul.  The pastor did not invite her to a study. The elders did not invite her to a study. She tried several times but no one reached out to her. She didn’t know what else to do and for nine years longer, she wandered, confused, lost, trapped, seeking but unable to find a way into the fold. She told me of the experience and said, “Phil, you have no idea what it’s like to be in the world, not liking it, not wanting to be in it, being different from those around you. They called her “Soda pop Millie” because she wouldn’t drink and she said she didn’t know how to find her way out. Now God overruled this experience for His glory and her good. What a pastor’s wife she became, She was the greeter at the church and no guest ever entered our churches without being warmly welcomed and invited to our home for Sabbath lunch. She and dad led many people into the church, many right here in Michigan. They were really old-timers but she told me that years later, she talked to the wife of the pastor of that church and asked, “Do you remember that church there in (and she mentioned the city) and the minister’s wife laughed and said, “My son said there is going to be a lot of funerals in that church because it was just aging and my mother turned away crying, realizing that they had no idea that there could have been one young person there but there was nobody that took interest.

 

Some time ago a male nurse came to our home in Blue Ridge, Georgia. He was interviewing for a nursing job in the local hospital. He and his wife are now committed Christians but they were not always. His wife told me her story. She had grown outwardly a Christian in a Christian home but before she was out of her teens, she made a mistake and became pregnant. Of course she felt great guilt throughout the pregnancy and after the baby was born, she continued to feel great guilt. And she knew for sure that she was lost but she was determined that her daughter would not be lost. So every week she faithfully took her daughter to Sabbath School and church in hopes that at least her daughter would be saved. Imagine, if you can, being that mother, knowing that you were lost, feeling that you were without hope but still wanting to save another. Every week at church, thinking the message in the pulpit was for others, thinking the message of salvation was for the saved. Every week putting on an empty smile, hiding the pain of feeling lost and alone, just like this woman. You may be feeling that even though you might not be saved, you want your children to be saved. You want your husband or your wife to be saved. You may be feeling like this woman who made a mistake and for all these years, the enemy goaded her to think that she had a hopeless, lost condition. But just like with her, Jesus has brought you the light today. Will you joyfully accept the light? We accept the truth that Jesus wants to save you, sinful though you’ve been. He came into the world to save sinners. That’s the only people He saves. Will you accept His gift of salvation? Bow your heads with me, will you lift up your hands just now. Is there one that will say, “Thank You, God, for enlightening my eyes.” Will you say, ‘Thank God for lifting my load.” Will you say, “Thank You, God, for such great salvation.” The Lord sees the hands and even on this camp ground, God has brought you here to give a message of hope to others, to give a message of encouragement to others, to give a message of salvation to others. That’s His purpose for giving new life today. That’s His purpose for giving me life today and as we meet with our friends, we have no idea who is full of discouragement.

 

Some years ago at a camp meeting I sat down at lunch with a person that is well-known among SDA circles. Some here perhaps would know him if I mention the name, which I won’t do. I sat down and I was very pleasant bantering, not having the clue that that person was so depressed and so discouraged. This was the person that would speak to large crowds. I had no idea that that person was so depressed and discouraged, that like Elijah, he prayed that God would just take his life. If he hadn’t had the trust in the Lord, he would have taken his own life.  That’s how depressed and down he was. You have no idea what is going on in the minds of people right around you. Will you determine today to have a message of hope to the people you eat with, to those you interact with?

 

“Dear Lord, it has not been a long message this morning but it’s an important message for us to understand the purpose for which You place us in this world, the purpose for which Jesus came into this world, to seek and to save those that are lost. Help us to be about our Father’s business. Help us to join Him in the great rescue and search operation that is now even going on that none be lost. The Lord is not willing that any perish but that all should come to repentance. We thank you for hearing and answering this prayer. In Christ’s name, Amen.”

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