"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?" (Romans:8:35).
The Adventist message has a heavy emphasis on preparing for threats in the future. We often heard the question, “Are you ready for the Time of Trouble?” We didn’t have a good answer, and that challenge drove a deep anxiety throughout Adventist culture. With all the terrible things coming, there is just too much to do. Many of us wondered, “Do I have enough supplies stored up?” Or, “Where can I flee to when the death decree is passed?” Or, “What will happen to my family?” Planning for the Time of Trouble led some Adventists to make elaborate preparations. I remember visiting a devout Adventist family and being amazed at their lush gardens, shelves full of canned fruits and vegetables, and labeled boxes of doomsday supplies, all kept in readiness.
Most of us didn’t store up doomsday supplies as much as we stored up anxieties in our souls. Would we have the strength to withstand the coming hostility and persecution? Could poverty or imprisonment break our faith in God and cause us to despair? According to Ellen White, terrible trials and evil powers can indeed triumph over those with genuine faith in Christ. Ellen White’s description of those terrible days could give a sense of dread. Of course, we carried the fear that Jesus would, at any moment, stop interceding for us and leave the sanctuary. If our characters aren’t spotless and we haven’t confessed every sin, we are lost.
Ellen White wrote: "When He leaves the sanctuary, darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor. The restraint which has been upon the wicked is removed, and Satan has entire control of the finally impenitent. Satan will then plunge the inhabitants of the earth into one great, final trouble (The Great Controversy, p. 614). From our Adventist Time of Trouble teachings flowed an undercurrent of fear in everything we did and believed. The common theme to these worries was fear of separation and total loss, either by violent death by wicked people, or by separation and rejection by God due to our unconfessed, unforgiven sins. Jesus was going to cease praying and pleading His blood for us, leaving us to sink or swim by the strength of our own characters."
Trusting in the Bible alone keeps us grounded in reality about the end times. The question, “Are you ready?” has a clear, confident answer for those who know Jesus, and who know God’s word. Very hard times are coming on this world, as Jesus told us. As the end approaches, there will be “a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Matthew 24:21). We are not to be complacent about the end time troubles. If you do not belong to Jesus, there can be no eternal security, and I pray that you will seek Him to be your Savior and your life.
Then in verse 28-30, we learn that God works in everything for our good, for us who were called according to His purposes. Verse 29 tells us that if you are in Christ, you were foreknown before the universe was created, and predestined to become like Christ. And right now, God counts you as perfectly righteous and glorified (vs. 30). Notice that Paul states those realities in the past tense, even though our glorification is a future event. In God’s reckoning, they are completed realities that cannot be changed.
That’s a lot of confidence and assurance to carry into the Time of Trouble, but Paul isn’t finished building our security. He asks us, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Did I hear you answer, “Satan”? No! Think about it. If God gave up His own Son to be murdered for us (vs. 32), He would also give us Jesus, the whole universe, and probably much more.
Have we dreaded the Time of Trouble, when we might be condemned for our unforgiven sins? Verse 33 asks, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” Who indeed? Satan? No, “It is God who justifies.” He is the ultimate court of appeal, case closed. Notice also, they are called, “God’s elect.” That reminds us of our eternal security, established before creation. That is the strongest kind of assurance for the believer’s future. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died.” He paid for them by His blood, they are bought with an infinite price, in an irreversible transaction, and they cannot be condemned again.
Then vs. 34, “More than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” This gives us great confidence in Him never abandoning us when we need Him most. Since His ascension to the Father, He has been at God’s right hand, not sequestered in the Holy Place of the sanctuary, waiting until 1844. He has been directly in the Father’s presence, the most holy place one can possibly be, all that time. He is interceding for us, praying for us, protecting our needs, making sure of every needed blessing to keep us safe and secure in Him. He will never stop interceding for us…
He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews:7:24-25).
Jesus always lives to make intercession for us, without interruption. If He abandoned us during the Time of Trouble, He would not be saving us “to the uttermost.” Because of His faithfulness, we can always draw near to God, and we can face all our worst fears.