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Why Jesus Needs Closure

Norman McNulty
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Dr McNulty was our Sabbath speaker at our Spring 2018 camp meeting. The Lord blessed him to clearly summarize the purpose of our ministry and the predicament of our Lord. Closure for Jesus is a ministry focused on helping men and women understand the cost of our salvation. Jesus is still longing to bring sin to an end, and could if we would understandingly and lovingly cooperate with Him.

Presenter

Norman McNulty

Neurologist at Southern Tennessee Regional Health System, Lawrenceburg, TN

Recorded

  • May 20, 2018
    12:00 PM
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The title for the message this morning is “Why Jesus Needs Closure.” You know, when I went to Loma Linda, I took a religion class entitled “God and Human Suffering,” and a lot of times we think about suffering on a human level, and there is no doubt that there is untold suffering that humans experience ever since sin entered into the world. But we often don’t think about the suffering of God. We think about our suffering; we think about our friends who are suffering, and yet we think that God just must have it so perfect sitting up in Heaven where sin is not present.

 

I want to take you to Zechariah, chapter 13, and we’re going to read verses 6 and 7. Zechariah, chapter 13, verses 6 and 7, and here the Bible says, “And one shall say unto him, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands?’ Then he shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow,’ saith the Lord of hosts: ‘smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.’” Now we understand that this verse, especially verse 7, describes how Jesus was the Shepherd, and when He was smitten, those who followed Him were scattered at the time of His death. And in verse 6, when He is describing these wounded hands, this is now in the heavenly Kingdom when people are asking Jesus, “Where did these wounds in Your hands come from?” And He will say, “I got them in the house of My own friends, of My own people.” And there will be an eternal reminder of the suffering of God by the wounds in the hands of Jesus that we will see throughout eternity.

 

Is it possible that we are continuing to wound Him today by our naïve or even willful ignorance of the way He was treated in the past and of the way we are treating Him today? All too often, as we long for Christ’s Second Coming to put an end to our suffering, we forget how He suffers and how He has been wounded, and what enormous suffering the long delay has caused Him and all of Heaven.

 

So we think about our suffering. You know, Ellen White has a statement in Education, page 263; we’re going to spend some time on this paragraph. Ellen White says here, “Those who think of the result of hastening or hindering the gospel think of it in relation to themselves and to the world.” You know, I just turned 40 a year ago, and I guess I have lived long enough now to start to see people that I’ve grown up with face sickness and death.

 

Just a few months ago, a young lady that I went to school with died from cancer. She went to medical school. She had a lifestyle medicine clinic, one of the nicest persons you’ll ever meet. Her husband was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor. She had three young children. She gets afflicted with cancer and dies; I understand a thousand people came to her funeral. And the natural thing, of course, and it’s an appropriate thing to think, of how she suffered and how her family has suffered and will continue to suffer, and how the coming of Jesus will bring an end to their sorrow. And we think of other stories. I see the story of one of my friends from college that I went to school with, just today he posted how his young daughter is in the hospital facing a serious illness. I think of other examples of people who have died too young, of broken homes, of unspeakable sadness that we face. And because we are human, and because by faith only, we can see Heaven and eternal realities, we tend to think about eternal realities with respect to what it will mean for us, how, when we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. And it’s going to be a day of rejoicing.

 

And we look around us in this world that we live in. Just, was it yesterday or the day before, another 10 students died in a school shooting here in the United States. There is suffering and sadness that is clearly going on as a result of the fact that we live in a world of sin. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say, “I’m so looking forward to Jesus coming because then we won’t have to deal with this anymore.” And it’s true.

 

But have you ever thought about how Jesus feels and about how God feels, how the Godhead feels, how all of Heaven feels as they look down upon this world of sin ever since Eve tasted of the fruit and Adam participated in that sin with her? Have you ever thought how all of Heaven feels when they look down upon this earth? And now we’re 6,000 years into this world of sin and suffering, and it’s been 2,000 years since Jesus made a provision for sin, and yet here we still are.

 

And Ellen White says, “Few think of its relation to God. Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator.” Do you realize that Jesus suffers as long as this world continues? Which raises the question, why then hasn’t He come if He is suffering? Not only are we suffering, and, yes, we have moments of happiness and joy, and if we follow the Lord, we should have lives of happiness and joy. We can have a peace that passes understanding, and yet the reality is, is that we face trials and sadness and sorrow, and we think of that with respect to ourselves, but few, if any of us, think about how this is affecting God, the fact that we are still here.

 

The quote continues in Education, page 263, “All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity.” You know, a lot of times we think Heaven suffered when Jesus was hanging on the cross, and the Father and the Son were seemingly separated from each other, and Jesus can’t feel the presence of His Father. But that suffering that Heaven has felt began the moment that sin entered into the world, and Ellen White says that this suffering did not end with His manifestation of humanity. So, in other words, when Jesus ascends up into Heaven…And Psalm 24 paints this beautiful picture of Jesus returning into Heaven and the angels singing His praises and singing, “Who is this King of Glory...The Lord of hosts…The Lord strong and mighty.” And so Jesus returns victoriously, and yet the suffering that God and all of Heaven experience did not end when Jesus stepped back into the heavenly realm.

 

Yes, He had gained the victory over the devil, but the last 2,000 years are clear evidence that Satan still has a foothold on this planet, and he has more than a foothold. He’s still staking a claim trying to make it appear as if he is the ruler of this world. And so suffering of Heaven did not end with His manifestation in humanity.

 

Why does Jesus need closure? You know, we say that we love Jesus, right? Nobody is going to say, “Well, I don’t love Jesus.” The easiest way I can illustrate this would be to say this: If your family relationship…If you’re married, the person you’re closest to is your spouse. If you’re a child, the closest relationship you have is to your siblings and your parents. When you love the people you are closest to, your goal is to not bring suffering to them, right? Your goal is to bring them joy, peace and happiness by the grace of God, and you pray that by God’s grace the love of God will be in your heart so that the love you show to those that you are closest to will not bring suffering to their lives. So shouldn’t it be that if we love Jesus, our goal would be to bring an end to the suffering that He experiences because of the reality that sin is still present on this planet?

 

Now, the next sentence in this paragraph is very familiar and famous, and it’s worth our time and reflection. “The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God.” Now, let me tell you something, you might think you’re pretty sharp; you might think you’re pretty smart. Listen, yeah, I happen to have a medical degree, big deal. Who cares? I’m a human being like anybody else. You might think that you’re the smartest farmer in town or the smartest mechanic in town, and there are certain things that you can do that I can’t do, that I can do as a doctor that you can’t do, and so we all have areas of knowledge and expertise. Big deal. You might think you’re smart. You know what? You have dull senses, and so do I. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that sin has brought to the heart of God.

 

And, you know, you may say, “Oh, I’m just going to live my life, and what I do affects me, and it doesn’t affect anybody else. And I’m just going to do what I’m going to do.” And inevitably your poor choices affect the people that are closest to you. I’ve had family members that have made bad decisions, who have ended up in jail. And we’ve had to deal with the fallout of their poor choices because they were just going to live for themselves, and they weren’t going to live for anybody else. And what they did wouldn’t affect anybody else but themselves, and they live for themselves. And yet the reality is, your bad decisions affect the people that are in your life.

 

And the same is true with respect to God. We can say, “I’m not here for anybody else but myself. I’m just going to choose to live the way I want to live. And I don’t have anybody close to me.” But at the end of the day, let’s just say hypothetically you didn’t have any family, your poor choices bring pain to the heart of God. And that should matter to you, especially if you profess to love Him.

 

“The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God.” You know, I remember when I was maybe 10 years old, my father made a statement that I’ve always remembered. He’s like, “You know, if we’re not careful, we can become numb to the power of the cross.” That’s just like, “Oh, yeah, Jesus died for my sins. I accept Him as my Savior,” and it’s as if it’s just some kind of theoretical idea, and we don’t bring ourselves to the foot of the cross with a broken heart that Jesus died for me. And we hear the preacher say that, and it’s just like it bounces off us like we have Teflon on. “Oh, yeah, Jesus died for me.” And inspiration is trying to tell us that the cross is a revelation to our dull senses, and the fact that we become numb to the power of the cross tells us just how dull our senses really are!

 

Jesus, the God of the universe, died on the cross for you, for me. “Oh, yeah. That’s good. I’m hearing another sermon about Jesus dying for me…I wonder what we’re having for lunch today.” Really? Has your heart been broken by the reality that your sin put Jesus on the cross? And Jesus continues to suffer as long as there is sin in this world, and that should matter to us. You know, when we come to the Lord in prayer, it is appropriate, certainly, to bring our burdens to the Lord, but do you ever come to the Lord with a prayer and with a thought and with communication to Him saying, “Lord, please work in my life so that I will bring peace to Your heart. I’m sorry for how my sin has brought suffering to You.”

 

Now, if you love Jesus, that is how you will communicate with Him. But if Jesus is simply an idea where you think that you’ll be saved because He died, and yet you’re not connected to Him, and you’re not worried about how your choices affect Him, He’s very likely going to say some day, “Depart from Me; I never knew you.” I mean, if my relationship with my wife consists of me looking into what I can get from her and how she will just make my life better, and I’m not concerned about how my choices and my actions and my way of life affect her, what kind of a relationship is that? And yet so many of us treat Jesus that way. We look at what we can get from Him. We think we’ll get salvation. We think we’ll get eternal life, and somehow, someday, we’ll walk into the Kingdom, hardly ever having had a relationship with Him but making some profession with our lips, that if we accept His sacrifice we’ll somehow get into the Kingdom, even though our heart is not broken by the fact that our sin put Him to death on the cross.

 

And Jesus is looking for a people who are not looking in a selfish way for what they can get out of following Him. Jesus is looking for a people who love Him, who are unselfish and whose hearts are broken by the fact that they’re sin put Him on the cross. And they want His suffering to come to an end because, listen, you may not have thought about it this way, but the angels in Heaven right now, they are the ones who are ministering to us, and you may not have thought of it this way, but do you realize that the fall of evil angels, where they’re down here working on Satan’s side, were the friends of the unfallen angels in Heaven? And so they’re saying, “Okay, You kicked our friends out for good reason; we don’t want them here. We don’t like what they were doing here, and we don’t want them back. We’re good with that, God. But the people on Earth? We don’t want them to come in here and do what our former friends were doing. And if You are going to bring people into Heaven that are just looking for what they can get out of Heaven, that kind of reminds us of what those fallen angels were like, and we don’t want that.”

 

And so God brings about the Plan of Salvation, not so that we can go to Heaven and just have a good time living in a perfect place where we enjoy the privileges of Heaven without wanting the lifestyle of Heaven. God is looking for people who love Jesus and whose hearts are broken by the fact that Jesus died for our sins. And we are saying, “Lord, I want to love You with all of my heart, and I want my life to bring joy to Your heart so that Your suffering will come to an end, that my life will bring honor and glory to the name of God.”

 

You know, so many times we’re asking the wrong question. And you know you’ve heard this question asked, and if this question is asked, most of the time it’s the wrong question to be asking, and this is the question: Is this a salvational issue? You know why that’s the wrong question? Because the question that should be asked is, “What is going to bring glory to God’s name?” Now there might be a time where it’s okay to ask the question, “Is this salvational?” there may be. But most of the time, when you ask the question, “Is this a salvational issue?” you know what you’re going to do when you come to the end of that answer. You’re going to resolve that issue by lowering the standard because you’re going to say, “No, God won’t keep us out of Heaven for this, this or this.” So the standard is here, but we’ll drop it to here because God won’t keep us out of Heaven.

 

And then after a little while, we drop it to here, and then here and then here and then here, and then finally it’s down here, and it’s bringing pain to the heart of God because we’re going against the revealed will of God, and it’s sin, and we’re saying, “Oh, but God won’t keep us out.” But, you know, God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden for eating a fruit that was perfect, it was just not supposed to be eaten, and it tasted good.

 

And so we’re down here now with our standards as a church, thinking that God will take this Laodicean filth into the Kingdom when the standard is up here, and we wonder why this isn’t okay, but we’ve been asking the wrong questions all along so that we lower the standard because nothing’s salvational anymore, and we just want Jesus to be the Savior of our lives, but we don’t want Him to be the Lord of our lives. And Jesus says in a parable of Luke 19, “We will not have this man reign over us.” Sure, He can save us, but He won’t be Lord of our lives. We’re going to be the lord. And when we do that, friends, we are bringing pain to the heart of God.

 

I’m going to go back to the statement in Education, page 263, “Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him.” Can you imagine the grief that God feels in Heaven even now? You know, I realize this may not be the most pleasant thing to think about, but if we love Jesus, we want to know how He really feels, don’t we? And we want to have a right understanding of the relation we need to have to God.

 

The statement continues, “When there came upon Israel the calamities that were the sure result of separation from God,—subjugation by their enemies, cruelty, and death,—it is said that ‘His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.’ ‘In all their affliction He was afflicted.’” Do you realize, like, when Israel was taken into captivity to Babylon, when they were brought into captivity and all of these things, God wasn’t sitting up in Heaven saying, “That’ll teach them. Serves them right.” No, His soul was sorrowful.

 

Continuing on, “…Our world is a vast lazar house,” meaning a vast sick house, “a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon.” You know, we have our sphere of influence and our sphere of contacts, and we see suffering that comes through. You know, we have no idea what it’s like to be God and to know everything and to see everything and to feel everything.

 

“Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible. Yet God feels it all. In order to destroy sin and its results He gave His best Beloved, and He has put it in our power, through co-operation with Him, to bring this scene of misery to an end.” Did you hear that? He has put it in our power through cooperation with Him to bring this scene of misery to an end, but you know what the problem is? A lot of us have become so comfortable here in this earth that we’re not ready for the scene of misery to be put to an end.

 

And let’s make it real here. Some of us enjoy country living so much that we’re not ready for Jesus to come yet. We’d rather have some country living for a while before the time of trouble comes because country living is more comfortable than going through the time of trouble. Really? And what about Jesus? And He looks down from Heaven, and He’s like, “Well, that’s good that you have that nice country property that you’re living on, but what are you doing with that country property to evangelize the world and to take the Gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people?”

 

And I hear so many people say, “Well, I’m a silent witness.” And, you know, that is true; there are so many silent witnesses in the church that people don’t even know that you’re an Adventist! Yeah, we’re really good silent witnesses. Never was a term better used than to say, “I’m a silent witness.” But God has put it in our power through cooperation with Him to bring this scene of misery to an end. And then she quotes Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

 

You know some times I think…I don’t just think, I see it…Seventh-day Adventists are in so many ways no different than the Jews of old, and this happens to conservative Adventists as well as anybody else. You know, the Jews of old, they separated themselves off from the world. They walled themselves off, and God had put Israel at the crossroads of the world so that they will be witnesses to the ends of the earth. But they didn’t want to pollute themselves or be deviled by the people around, and so they walled themselves off and did not evangelize the world. And so God had to allow them to be taken into captivity. But God wanted them to be witnesses for Him and He allowed other things to happen so that they would witness for His name because they weren’t doing the work that God had given them to do.

 

And sometimes I look at us as people, and we wall ourselves off in the country, and we forget the counsel that those are supposed to be outpost centers so that we can go work the cities. And we see that the cities have become like Sodom and Gomorrah on some level, and yet we want to protect our children and our family, and so we never go, we never evangelize, we never do the work. We’re just out here separated, not doing anything other than to protect ourselves from the world the way the Jews did of old because they didn’t want to be contaminated by the Gentiles.

 

Now, I’m all for country living; I live in the country, and I have a garden and a berry patch, and I’m an hour and a half from the nearest big city, so I’m all for that. But I’m not for isolationism. And, I mean, I see these stories where kids aren’t starting school until they’re 12 years old, and they’re just learning how to read, and they hardly know how to interact with people and the world around them. And they didn’t learn to read until they’re 12, and then they don’t know how to witness or evangelize. I mean, Jesus, He was, like, you know, at the age of 12, He’s already ready to do the Lord’s work, and you can’t read because you’re trying to wall yourself off from the influences of the world around you?

 

Listen, friends, the Lord put us in this world to be a light to this world and to be a witness and to reach the world around us. “And God has put it in our power through cooperation with Him to bring this scene of misery to an end. ‘This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.’”

 

When we love Jesus, we will want this world of sin and suffering to come to an end, secondarily because we see suffering in our lives because of it, but primarily because of what it will do for Jesus. That Jesus can put an end to interceding on behalf of His professed people as we continue to fall into sin. And so Jesus keeps pleading to His Father with His wounded hands, “My blood, Father, My blood, My blood.” And because of His love for us, He’s going to continue to intercede for us, but it brings suffering to His heart. We talked about the grace of God and how there is an endless supply of grace for our sin, and, yes, if we are repentant, there is grace for our sin, absolutely. But we don’t realize how much it brings pain to the heart of God as He continues to bestow His grace for our sins. At some point, that needs to come to an end for the sake of Jesus.

 

The Great Controversy, 489 says, and this is quoting Proverbs 28:13, “‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.’” Now, notice, it says…The Bible says, not just confess but forsake. We’re good at confessing but not so good at forsaking. “If those who hide and excuse their faults could see how Satan exults over them, how he taunts Christ and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to confess their sins and to put them away.” Do you enjoy the fact that when you fall into sin, Satan is taunting Christ and the angels with a course that you have taken? Does that make you feel good to know that when you are choosing to sin, that Satan is taunting Christ and the holy angels? If you love the Lord, that should bother you deeply. The last thing you would want is for Satan to be taunting Christ with your course of action.

 

“Through defects in the character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed.” Now, listen to this, “Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome.” Now, listen, friends, if you were hearing in the church that you cannot overcome sin, do you know where that’s coming from ultimately? That’s coming from the devil. So you better watch out if you’re hearing that preached in your church because that’s not coming from the Lord. If you hear that it is impossible for you to overcome, that is coming from the devil. The Bible is clear, Jude 24, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”

 

And the quote goes on to say, “But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him: ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’ ‘Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’” And then she goes on to say, “Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them.” God has given us enough grace and enough faith to overcome every defect in our lives. Don’t say, “Well, my dad was like this, so it’s just going to be the way I am.” “My mom was like this; that’s how I am.” The Lord can give you victory over every tendency in your life. And the beautiful thing is that when you gain victory, yes, peace comes into your life, but joy comes into the heart of Jesus. And when we love the Lord, it should bring joy to us to know that His suffering is being alleviated when His power is being seen in our lives.

 

You know, going back to this idea that the cross is a revelation to our dull senses, it’s helpful to make applications in our own lives. And the application I use is the story of my father. He died 15 years ago from multiple sclerosis, a degenerative neurologic condition, and he was 63 at the time of his death. When I was younger, in my, you know, childhood years, my father worked very hard to provide for the family. And he was an emergency room physician, and he worked shifts at a number of hospitals kind of far from where we lived, but he wanted us to live close to a church school so that we would have a Christian education. And he would drive sometimes 100 miles one way to work shifts in the emergency room to help provide for the family. And there were four of us children, and so that obviously cost money to provide for a family and to put them through a church school, if you’re putting them in church school, although my wife and I are homeschooling now, and so we certainly believe in that. But we were in a situation where homeschooling wasn’t really a viable option.

 

But my father worked really hard to provide for us, and, you know, as a kid, man, my senses were so dull. When you’re a kid and you see dad working, it’s just like, “That’s what dad does. Dad works hard, mom makes the food, washes the clothes, and I go to school. And dad works hard, and that’s what dads do.” And I knew dad loved us, and I loved him. I had a great relationship with him. And, you know, of course he got sick and eventually became disabled and wasn’t able to work once I reached my college years. And that’s when I started to wake up to some of the realities once I started studying for medicine and going through medical school. I was like, “Wow! My dad had to do this; this isn’t easy.”

 

And, you know, I kind of knew that, but it’s one thing to know that medical school is hard; it’s another thing to actually go through it yourself. And then once you get married and have your own children, and you’re the father, and you’re the one that’s working, and you’re the one that’s providing for your family, and then you look back and you look at the things your dad did, and he never said anything about it. It was just something that he did. And now he’s gone, and I can’t say to him, “Thank you,” and that bothers me. And some day I will get to say thank you.

 

And the cross is a revelation to our dull senses. Not, “Jesus died on the cross; that’s what Jesus does.” Really? You couldn’t have any hope of eternity if Jesus didn’t come down to this earth and pay that sacrifice that none of us could pay. And the thing is, is you can thank Him now. You don’t have to wait until the end of this life or when you get to Heaven and see Him face-to-face. You can thank Him now, and you can live for Him now, and you can give your life for Him fully and completely now where the cross can sharpen those dull sense.

 

You know, Ellen White says in The Desire of Ages, page 83, “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ.” You know, I’ll just say if we were to do that, what a difference it would make. “We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.”

 

When you come to the foot of the cross, it’s not just some generic, “Jesus died for our sins.” No, Jesus died for me, and my heart is broken because of my sin that put Him there. If we’re going to be saved at last, we need penitence or a broken heart for what we have done that put Jesus there and the humiliation. So many times, we have a tendency as Seventh-day Adventists to say, “I’m not that bad.” Or like, “God, I’m so thankful that I’m not like those liberals who don’t even believe in creation. And I’m so glad that I’m not like those liberals who are in support of the LGBT movement. God, I thank You. Now, I might not be a very nice person to live with, but God’s going to overlook that because I’m in favor of the literal creation, and I’m opposed to the LGBT movement. I’m a good Adventist.”

 

You’re not going to be thinking that way when you see Jesus on the cross, and the pain that sin has wrought to Him. You know, when we think of the cross being a revelation to our dull senses, it’s almost easy to think that you know, God just says, you know, we quote John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” and it’s as if we think, “Oh, God was just like, ‘Okay, Jesus, you go. We got it.’”

 

Notice what Ellen White says in Early Writings, page 151, “Said the angel, ‘Think ye that the Father yielded up His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no. It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether to let guilty man perish, or to give His beloved Son to die for him.’” Do you realize the pain that sin has brought to the heart of God and what God gave up by sending Jesus to die for our sin? And we just kind of think that this world goes on, and it doesn’t affect God. And Jesus died 2,000 years ago, and yet, here we still are. Jesus went to the Most Holy Place 174 years ago, and here we still are. And it was a struggle for the Father whether or not to give up His Son.

 

Not only was it a struggle for the Father, when Jesus came to the moment of truth, as He’s in Gethsemane, He’s saying, “Oh, My Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, Thy will be done.” Ellen White says in The Desire of Ages, page 690 that these “words fall tremblingly from the pale lips of Jesus.” This is a struggle. Humanly speaking, Jesus does not want to drink the cup. And that cup, in the book of Revelation, is the cup that is full of the wrath of God that is poured out without mixture upon those who will receive the second death.

 

Continuing in The Desire of Ages, 690, “Three times has He uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice.” So Jesus had to pray this prayer three times. It took three times to push through to finally say, “I will follow Your will, Father.” “But now the history of the human race comes up before the world’s Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life.”

 

Friends, I hope that moves you. I hope that touches your hearts, that the heart of Jesus was touched when He saw you, and that you would be lost if He didn’t move forward with the sacrifice. You know, Ellen White says Manuscript Releases, Volume 21, page 37, “Hanging upon the cross Christ was the gospel,” but it was a struggle. It was a struggle for the Father to give up His Son. It was a struggle for Jesus to go through with His sacrifice, and then we say God is asking too much from us, that it’s too hard to follow Jesus all the way? That it would be too much for us to give up that which will destroy us when Jesus gave up everything, and the Father gave up everything with the risk of losing that for eternity. Jesus could have been lost forever, but He took that risk, and He didn’t just die for well-dressed, knowledgeable Seventh-day Adventists.

 

He died for the guy in the gutter, too, that He wants us to reach. And we just look around at the people around us like, “Oh, yeah, they’re going to burn when He comes. That’s going to be the end of them,” and that’s not how God thinks. He looks at that person as someone He died for, and He wants us as His witnesses to reach them. And what are we doing?

 

So there was a struggle for the Father to give up the Son. There was a struggle for the Son to drink the cup. And the reality is, is that we have a struggle as well because the devil wants us to believe that we will be giving up so much if we are to surrender our lives fully to God, which is why Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ.” It was a struggle for Jesus to get to the point where He put His arms out and allowed those nails to be driven through His hands. In an instant He could have made those nails fly back into the face of that Roman soldier that was pounding them in to His arms. But He had surrendered to the Father in Gethsemane, so when Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ,” that’s not just some, “Oh, yeah, you know, ‘Dear Jesus, please help me to be nice today. Amen.’” No. Come on.

 

“I am crucified with Christ.” That describes a life and death struggle for surrender in my heart the way Jesus struggled in Gethsemane over whether or not He would drink the cup, and the way the Father struggled whether or not to give up His Son. When Scripture says, “I am crucified with Christ,” it describes the warfare between Christ and Satan over our minds and over our wills, over who we will follow in our lives. “I am crucified with Christ.” It’s a struggle, total, 100-percent, complete following of the will of God because the devil is there presenting the allurements of this world and saying, “You can’t give up that idol. That’s part of who you are.” “You can’t give up that thing. That’s why you are the way you are.” And there’s this struggle for crucifixion the way Jesus in His human flesh, the same flesh that we have, struggled over whether or not to drink the cup.

 

“I am crucified with Christ,” but then the verse goes on to say, which is true when you have fully surrendered to Jesus, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless.” When you see the word “nevertheless,” in the English language and in the Bible, it means that everything that comes after takes precedence to what was said before. So when I am crucified with Christ, that means there has been a death. And Romans 6 makes it very clear that, “The old man is crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin,” meaning that you’ve had this old man, the slave master of sin that has been driving your life.

 

That’s why the man of Romans 7 doesn’t do the things he wants to do and does the things he doesn’t want to do because he is carnal, sold under sin. He’s a slave to sin, so he does what he doesn’t want to do, and doesn’t do what he wants to do, and yet Adventists today say that Romans 7 is righteousness by faith; it’s not, it’s slavery to sin. And the old man needs to be crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed, so that Galatians 2:20 can really mean what it says, that, “I am crucified with Christ,” meaning the old man of sin has been put to death, “nevertheless…yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

 

The same Jesus who walked this earth, who came in the likeness of sinful flesh and condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled, not outside of me but in me. “The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,” that’s the faith of Jesus, that’s the third angel’s message. “I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

 

So here’s the thing: The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that sin from its very inception has brought to the heart of God. When we spend that thoughtful hour at the foot of the cross, and in penitence and humiliation see ourselves for who we really are, we are now prepared to be crucified with Christ so that sin will be destroyed in our lives. And now, as Christ lives in us, our lives no longer bring pain to the heart of God. Short of being crucified with Christ, your life brings pain to the heart of God. He loves you that’s why it brings pain. But when you are not crucified, your unsurrendered, lukewarm, Laodicean, half-hearted Christian experience of a life is bringing pain to the heart of God. And the one thing that takes that pain away is when we die the way Jesus died. When we die the way Jesus died, the pain of God with respect to our lives goes away.

 

Why does Jesus need closure? It’s because our sinful lives are bringing pain, untold suffering, to the life of Jesus every day. You know, Ellen White tells us in Maranatha, page 249, that there must be a purification from sin in the lives of God’s people in harmony with the cleansing of the sanctuary in Heaven. So when there’s still sin in the lives of God’s people, the sanctuary in Heaven remains uncleansed. That’s why we’re still here.

 

I want to take you to Selected Messages, volume 1. This is our struggles, being crucified with Christ, and this connects directly to the concept of justification by faith. Selected Messages, volume 1, page 366, “But while God can be just, and yet justify the sinner through the merits of Christ, no man can cover his soul with the garments of Christ’s righteousness while practicing known sins, or neglecting known duties.” You know, Laodiceans going around thinking they’re rich, increased with goods, and have need of nothing, thinking that they’re clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and yet they’re practicing – we are practicing – known sins and neglecting known duties.

 

Now, listen to this, “God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place.” Did you hear that? “God requires the entire surrender of the heart before justification can take place.” Now, every theologian in the Christian world will agree on this, I think: If you are not justified, you are not saved. If you are not justified, you are not saved. And Ellen White is saying if you are not surrendered, you’re not saved. And to be surrendered is to be crucified, and when that, as I said before, and I’m going to say this again because we just take this verse so lightly. When it says, “I am crucified with Christ,” you are dying the same death that Jesus died, full surrender to the will of God even when you don’t feel like it.

 

“God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place; and in order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul.” Now that second part, “in order to retain justification, there must be continual obedience,” that’s sanctification. Now, listen. People will quote Ellen White and say, “Oh, sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” It’s true because there must be active continual obedience. My obedience for yesterday is not good enough for today. There’s a daily dying to self, so sanctification is the work of a lifetime, and yes, we grow more and more, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.

 

But people say sanctification is the work of a lifetime, implying that we’ll never get there. Yet, if you’re not surrendered, you’re not justified or sanctified. Sanctification is merely retaining that surrendered experience that you develop when you first came to the foot of the cross. The next paragraph ends by saying, “In order for man to be justified by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart; and it is by obedience that faith itself is made perfect.”

 

Now another statement from Bible Echo, April 1, 1892, “Those whom God has appointed to become instructors must know by personal experience what it is to have Christ made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But let no soul imagine that the gaining of eternal life through the finished work of Christ, will involve no struggle, no conflict. There will be constant battles against their own inclinations and hereditary and cultivated tendencies.” But, praise the Lord, we can gain victory over every inherited and cultivated tendency to evil through the power of Jesus when we are crucified with Christ.

 

So, to wrap this up, why does Jesus need closure? It’s because sin, from its very inception, has brought pain to the heart of God, and the delay in the coming of Jesus continues to bring pain to the heart of God. And God is looking for a group of people who are not looking at Heaven as something that they are going to get for themselves as some wonderful, tangible benefit that they’ll experience where, “I’m going to have a mansion and a waterfall by my backyard, and  tiger that I’m going to play with, and fruit that’s untainted, and I’ll never get sick, and no one’s going to die,” and the list goes on and on and on of all these personal benefits that you’re looking forward to, and you’re not thinking about Jesus.

 

God is looking for people who will say, “Yes, it will be great to be in Heaven because I’ll be with Jesus who is my best Friend and my Savior and my Lord, but you know what’s going to be nice? The suffering of Jesus will have come to an end.” There will be no more sin, and Jesus will no longer have to mediate in the sanctuary and intercede on behalf of His people because we’re continuing to sin. His work will be finished there, and His suffering will be over. You know, we kind of think of Jesus as High Priest as some awesome, amazing job, and it is an amazing job, but the very fact that Jesus is serving High Priest shows that He continues to suffer. And as His role as a minister of High Priest, He is suffering.

 

Jesus is Savior. He ascended into Heaven as our High Priest, but those who look for Him are looking for a Savior and a King who will come back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You know, Hebrews 9:27-28 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him,” and that word “look” is the word that means “with eager anticipation.” “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin,” meaning His suffering is over, “…shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

 

Friends, do you want the suffering of Jesus to end? Do you really love…The Father struggled to give up Jesus; Jesus struggled to drink the cup. Are you willing to be crucified with Him? Don’t let another day go by where your senses are so dull that you’re oblivious to the pain that God and all of Heaven are going through by the fact that we’re still here on this earth. Invite Jesus into your heart now and ask Him to give you the power to remove anything in your heart and in your life that is still bringing pain to His heart. And that is a prayer that He’s more than willing to answer.

 

If that’s your desire, I would invite you to kneel with me now as we bring this message to a close. Father in Heaven, we thank You that You love us so much that You sent Jesus to this world to die for us. Father, I ask that You would forgive us for how our senses have been so dull to how sin has brought so much pain to Your heart. We thought that we’ve been free, but really we’ve just been rebellious and hard-hearted and stiff-necked without even realizing that we’re bringing pain to Your heart. Lord, forgive us and give us grace. We thank You that Your grace is abundant and sufficient, but give us grace so that our hearts will be touched, and that we would be willing to surrender everything to You, that we would love You with all of our heart, soul and mind and that our concern would be for what would bring honor to Your name and what would bring joy to Your heart so that our decisions would not bring pain to You but that they would bring joy to You in that some day soon You will have a people on this earth that are prepared to meet You when You come.

 

So, Lord, I just pray that You would touch each of our hearts and that we would be ready for Your coming. And that when Jesus comes and He looks on each one of us, He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” This is my prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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