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Adventist Review Podcasts

Christian Talk

Adventist Review is the official magazine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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United States

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Adventist Review is the official magazine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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English

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301660-4490


Episodes
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ANSWERING THE QUESTION (May 24, 2024)

5/23/2024
What is God like? It sounds like the question of a six-year old—honest; direct; no nuance. Simple as it sounds, it’s actually one of the most important questions in human history. From the dawn of recorded time, both peasants and philosophers have wrestled with the question. Some cultures told themselves that He was angry and all-powerful. Others asserted that He was only one of many gods usually engaged in wrangling with each other. Still others claimed He is eternally inspecting our behavior, searching for any cause to deny us a forever home with Him. Jesus answered the question for all time and for all people. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” He told His followers. “The words I speak are not my own, but My Father who lives in Me does His work through Me” (John 14:9-10). The kindness, the graciousness, the sacrificial spirit seen in Jesus are identically those of the Father. So the Bible declares, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus was giving us the ultimate picture of God: “This is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). When you wonder if God is a friend or the ultimate enemy; when you doubt that He can forgive your brokenness and rebellion; when your heart aches to be loved and welcomed home—remember this: Jesus is the very image of the Father (Col 1:15). And you will stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:33

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SINGING OUR SONG (May 17, 2024)

5/16/2024
No one really wants to sing the blues. We only want to hear other people singing the blues. It’s hard to believe that a homeless, hungry, abandoned soul would choose to write a song about it. Surviving takes all your energy. But listening to someone else lamenting their pretended sorrows somehow makes us feel better about our not-so-bad lives. And yet of Jesus—our Redeemer—the Bible sings, “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isa 53:3). His suffering was no accident, no cruel twist of cosmic fate. “He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isa 53:5). Grace was Christ’s choice to live our blues so that our destinies would be forever changed. Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). A new and hopeful song is yours. Grace still amazes. So stay in it. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:01:49

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RAGS TO RICHES (May 10, 2024)

5/9/2024
We love our sugary success stories—the sweet and gripping fantasies we hope might someday happen to us. “Mailroom clerk becomes company CEO.” “Out-of-luck waitress wins huge lottery.” “Overlooked teen becomes Hollywood megastar.” We quietly insert our names to secretly imagine the powerful, wealthy, famous life we wish was ours. We live vicariously their stories of success. But when a loving God reached down to change our fates, He didn’t promise the penthouse office, a large portfolio, or millions of adoring fans. “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27). The Lord of whom the Bible says, “He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together” (Col 1:17), entered our story as the weakest of the weak—without status; without wealth; without popularity. And His success—stunning, cosmic, eternal—caused Him to die vicariously for us, in place of us, to heal our brokenness and pride. “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them” (2 Cor 5:14-15). Grace revels in a victory we didn’t win, and celebrates a future only God could give us. And it’s no fantasy. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:33

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NOWHERE ELSE (May 03, 2024)

5/2/2024
An old gospel hymn plaintively asks the question in the last line of each verse: “Where could I go but to the Lord?” The hymnwriter noted the deep challenges of everyday life in a broken world. He deplored the lack of things he needed to make life even minimally comfortable. He wrestled with the ever-present temptation to give up on God’s call to a new life in Christ. At the end of the day—and at the end of the song—the answer to his rhetorical question was and always is—"Nowhere else.” His line reminds us of the words of one of Jesus’ closest followers. At a moment when many “sunshine disciples” were turning away from Him, Jesus asked His disciples, “Will you also go away?” Peter spoke for the small number who remained: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). No combination of material things, cherished friends, or promises of personal achievement and business success can ever approach the value of the promise Jesus makes to all who put their trust in Him: “I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you” (Jer 31:3). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). Grace is the refuge to which the wise always run. Be wise, and find the forever safety your heart craves. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:28

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BETTER NEWS (April 26, 2024)

4/25/2024
“That’s old news.” In an information-obsessed world, that may be the ultimate put-down. Round-the clock—and endlessly repetitive—reporting crackles from hundreds of cable television channels. All-news radio stations compete for our ears when screens can’t have our eyes. Newspapers, which for two centuries held the world in thrall, now struggle with declining circulations because so much has changed in the eight hours between final edits and home delivery. The news they carry might now be “old.” Before we greet the day, or our spouses—or the Lord—we scan our screens on smartphones and tablets, starving for the latest news of disasters near and far, scandals among the famous, and a world bristling with violence. But the ultimate value of information is something other than urgency. Is it true? Is it relevant? And most importantly: Is it good—and good for us? The Bible reminds us that the best news is often the oldest—the enduring truth that never ages: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Cor 5:19). “God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). That news has been around for centuries—two millennia, in fact. And nothing has diminished its truth, its relevance, and its essential goodness. Grace is always timely—and enduring. So stay in it. -Bill KNott

Duration:00:02:38

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THE GREATEST MYSTERY (April 19, 2024)

4/18/2024
A mother’s deep affection for her newborn child is completely understandable. The nine months they’ve spent journeying together—and a surge of maternal hormones—create an instant, fierce attraction to that red and wrinkled infant gazing solemnly into her eyes. A young couple’s giddy delight in each other at the wedding altar is completely understandable. Months of shared memories and reverent promises have propelled them to this moment—along with a surge of powerful biochemicals. Nothing could be more natural. A young soldier’s deep loyalty to the men who have battled alongside him, guarded his back, and rescued him in deepest danger is completely understandable. We were designed to show love back to those who first loved us. But what explains God’s deep and fervent affection for millions of human beings who have never warmed to His attention, trusted in His promises, or appreciated His vigilant protection? There’s nothing natural—or understandable—about it. God chooses of His own marvelous free will to love those who ignore Him, seek those who consistently disobey His rules, and embrace those who crucified His Son. “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:20). “This is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Receiving the gift of God’s persistent grace doesn’t mean that we can ever fully explain it or understand it. But go ahead: embrace the mystery. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:48

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ANOTHER KIND OF PRODIGAL (April 12, 2024)

4/11/2024
What kind of person gets angry when a wretched, broken sinner is restored by the grace of God? Are there really people that selfish? The answer, according to Jesus, is sadly “Yes”—and they sometimes congregate in churches. In Jesus’ famous story, an arrogant younger brother forces his father to liquidate the family holdings to fund his portion of the estate, yet finally comes to his senses while wrestling pigs for food in a far-off land. Broken by his foolish choices, he makes his best decision ever—to return to the always-open arms of the father. Grace stirs his heart; grace moves his feet; grace gives him words; grace draws him to his father’s arms. But lurking on the margins is a man turned hideous by his angry rejection of the same grace that brought his younger brother home. Nothing can be given. Everything must be earned. The early bird is the righteous bird. Only the righteous bird deserves the worm. “All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to” (Luke 15:29) he snarls at his father. He cannot join the party, for only grace knows how to truly celebrate. When prodigals come home; when broken lives get mended; when those most undeserving wear the Father’s ring and eat the Father’s food, graceless people show their true colors. Don’t be surprised. And don’t let them ever keep you from coming fully home. Stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:28

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UNMERITED (April 05, 2024)

4/4/2024
It’s usually said with a cynical smile and an eye roll: “My good deed did not go unpunished.” And it nicely sums up the exasperation we feel when life doesn’t seem fair, when hard work isn’t rewarded, when doing the right thing brings only more trouble and heartache. But what if the more accurate summary of our lives was actually the inverse: “My bad deeds did not get punished.” According to the Bible, our faith in Jesus means that we’ll never get what we deserve—and we will be deliriously happy with that outcome! “But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 5:20-21). Grace offers us believably good news: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). Let cynics retire. Let the saved rejoice. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:00

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MORNING HAS BROKEN (March 29, 2024)

3/28/2024
These hours between midnight and dawn test the patience of the world. We stumble through the hallways of dark houses. We seek companionship in all-night TV channels and books that used to put us to sleep. We hide from pain or grief that won’t let us close our eyes. Why must dawn wait? Why must the hope of day stretch out so far away? If we could, we’d reach out and pull the first gray light of morning toward us–wrap ourselves in a little bit of hope and cheer. But dawn isn’t within our grasp. Only one man in all history could bring the morning. Just one man could rightfully claim, “I am the light of the world.” Only Jesus could split the prison where we were chained in shame with the marvelous good news of grace and pardon and power and peace. Only He could triumph over death and hell, because only He had experienced—and broken—their power. This hurting world of ours desperately needs the story of His resurrection. This dark planet, racked by war and ravaged by disease, cries out for the good news of that amazing sunrise. Morning has broken, and goodness has won. Celebrate the new life you’ve been given. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:00

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ALWAYS AMAZING (March 22, 2024)

3/21/2024
Fast-forward, if you can, to scenes our hearts are aching to be in. Redeemed at last from all the brokenness, the pettiness, the pain of earthly life, we stand before the throne with those from every nation, tribe, and people, breathing in the air of heaven and singing at the top of our lungs, “Salvation belongs to our God” (Rev 7:10). Does even one hand go up to get the Lord’s attention? — “I need to be sure my good deeds are recorded, that my sacrifice is written down somewhere.” “Preposterous,” you say—and right you are. It’s simply unimaginable that anyone who’s covered by the blood of Jesus would take some credit for a rescue owing just to Him. So why is it we now persist in counting up our virtues? Isn’t it evidence enough that we too often fail to grasp the overwhelming, undergirding goodness of our God? Grace is better than we first believed, more sweeping than we now believe, more joyous than we’ll ever believe. Put down your hand. Lift up your voice. The grace will always be amazing. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:01:35

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NEVER WALK ALONE (March 15, 2024)

3/14/2024
It’s a pandemic for the ages. Even though we’re more “connected” than ever, a tidal wave of loneliness has washed around the world. Eight billion cell phones aren’t enough if people talk to fewer friends, never share a walk or meal, or leave important things unsaid. Our bodies and our minds insist that we be with someone. And so the first name given Jesus in the Gospels is “Immanuel”—“God with us”—the One who shares the walk, who shares the meal; the One who promises to never leave us alone. Companionship is just the thing our haggard hearts are craving. When knowledge fails to satisfy; when income fails to multiply; when only fears solidify, we want a friend—a graceful friend—who will be always on our side. “Love never ends” (1 Cor 13:8). Grace is the offer of a Friend who pledges, “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). Share the journey. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:01:49

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ALL ARE GIFTED (March 08, 2024)

3/7/2024
We are wary for good reasons. We’ve had too much of hurt, of wounds, of promises that didn’t deliver. Nothing “too good to be true” should ever be believed. But grace presents us with impossibly good things—all backed up by the God who cannot lie and never exaggerates. “As far as the east is from the west, so far He removes our transgressions from us” (Ps 103:12). “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Eze 36:26). Was there ever better news? Can the God we’ve so much offended be the same who offers us a rich, forgiven, guilt-free life when we believe in Jesus? “In Him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes’” (2 Cor 2:20). Grace is the gift we’ll never earn from Him whose love we’ll never lose. What once we thought impossible is true and free and good—and ours. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:01:35

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BEYOND BELIEF (March 01, 2024)

2/29/2024
It takes a lot to surprise the authors of the Bible. In the pages of Scripture, we find unflinchingly honest stories about every kind of failing—adultery, murder, cruelty, abuse. Nothing human is foreign to them. But they were startled—even shocked—at the undeserved and unexpected mercy of God for broken people like us. Listen to Paul: “Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Rom 5:7-8). The apostle John echoes the astonishment: “See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). The grace of God is always more—more powerful than our darkest failings; more thorough than our best attempts to put ourselves in order; more persistent than our deepest loyalties. “Love never gives up” (1 Cor 13:7). Receive the gift that never ceases to amaze. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:01:54

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DOES GOD HEAR ME? (February 23, 2024)

2/22/2024
When warm light floods the living room and laughter visits along with friends, we bless the grace of God for making all our good days better. But when the rain slants heavily across our midnight loneliness, is grace still real? Is God still good? The greatest saints this world has known are full unanimous on this: God’s grace is undiminished by the dark, the cold, the prison cell, the illness and the tears. For just such hours and just such years the witness of God’s Word is clear: “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me” (Psa 18:16-17). “The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is His ear too deaf to hear you call” (Isa 59:1). Yes, grace is justly celebrated when harmonies rise heavenward, and massive choirs proclaim the beauty of redemption. But grace is even better known when tearful, solo saints exclaim: “From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for Your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer” (Psa 130:1-2). Call out for grace in any hour. God hears your voice: it doesn’t take a choir. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:17

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AND THERE WAS HOPE (February 16, 2024)

2/15/2024
A century ago, the poet wept: “Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold.” And after greater blood and anarchy, who dares to argue with him? Pollyannas need not apply. And yet, sweet children are still softly kissed before they dream each night. Young lovers stroll and plan for lives that still unfold. The vendor at the corner store still offers us a smile with every morning’s purchase. What keeps our world above the “blood-dimmed tide” that threatens to engulf us? According to the Word of God, it is His grace that still preserves our loves and tenderness. Even the world-ending cataclysm the Bible teaches us about is not rushed—while mercy does its work: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Your good job; your fresh love; your next breath—all are made possible by love that will not let us go. Between the haste and pain; among the litter of our sins; through all the litany of obstinance and ignorance—the grace of God preserves, sustains, and offers hope. There is no depth grace cannot reach; no foolishness it can’t undo. Grace is another word for hope. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:22

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HE ALWAYS WAS HUMBLE AND KIND (February 09, 2024)

2/8/2024
Name any virtue dear to you, and there’s one grace behind it. Even the Bible’s best-known virtues— “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23)—grow from one even more remarkable quality: humility. Love means putting others before ourselves; joy is joining in another’s glee. Peace emerges when we quiet the clamoring of ego; kindness acts to bless another. Faithfulness means being loyal to someone other than ourselves. Gentleness and self-control are how we act when we respect the dignity of others. This undergirding grace of humility is best seen in Jesus Himself, who acted toward us as only true virtue could: “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, He humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-7). Only magnificent humility would offer saving grace to undeserving folks like us. As we learn Christ’s humility, we grow in grace—and virtues. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). Learn whose you are. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:31

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REHEARSING THE GOSPEL (February 02, 2024)

2/1/2024
When we were children, practicing was frequently the bane of our existence. Endless loops of cursive handwriting; sticky valves on rented clarinets; stubborn keyboard ivories that mocked our stubby fingers. Practicing brought little joy as we outlasted clocks. But then, perhaps, we found some sweet proficiency—some pleasing skill still short of smooth perfection. We scored the winning soccer goal; our fingers or our voices shared a recognizable tune. And so it is as we learn grace. Against the backward pressure of our fears, we sing to others and ourselves of mercy when we least deserve it; of God’s rich kindness finally overwhelming all our callousness. We now rehearse the stories of what Jesus did; what He is doing; what He will do. “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son” (Rom 5:10). Practicing the gospel is all about repeating what is really true against the echo of our past. The Father still calls prodigals back home; embraces all who stumble on the way; forgives the ones who never seem to get the tune just right. Day by day, we grow in grace as we remind ourselves of Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Keep practicing until you’re sure He got it right. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:22

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THE HONEST TRUTH (January 26, 2024)

1/25/2024
When all our boasts are at an end; when no one’s left we might impress; when all our tales of make believe have not made anyone believe—we stare into the mirror that reveals our brokenness and pain. Hard as it is, this is the moment richer life begins. Reduced by circumstance and time to being honest with ourselves, we reach for help we cannot give ourselves. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6). We fear such honesty will leave us lonely, loveless, miserable. But God sees in our honesty the genesis of life renewed. “‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’” (Isa 1:18). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The honesty that seemed to seal our doom is actually the doorway to restored and joyful life. Grace changes our reality, not only our self-image. Made right with God through Jesus Christ, we grow into the kinder, wiser, honest souls whom we were always meant to be. The mirror doesn’t lie. And neither does the Lord. So stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:17

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THE SONG OF THE REDEEMED (January 19, 2024)

1/18/2024
I sing the solo grace “that saved a wretch like me,”—and so I should. Without it, I would be forever lost and never found. But grace is more than what God does for me, though there may never be a hymn to fully capture that. Grace is the Spirit moving in a hundred hearts when reconciliation is proclaimed from pulpits or on hillsides. “For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:22-24). Grace is the grip of someone I’ve offended who offers a forgiving hug, even when I haven’t gotten to “I’m sorry.” Grace is the circle of believers, certain of their brokenness, who willingly embrace the addict, the obnoxious, the pariah. Just like the Child who was born to us, grace is God’s truth for all of us—on us; for us; with us; through us. “To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). We teach each other of this shareable redemption by not insisting on our rights; by silencing our cutting words; by holding those who seem intent on pushing us away. We live this grace together in a fellowship encouraging forgiveness. Pray for the eyes to see this wider grace, to sing this fuller song. And you will stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:26

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UNWEARIED LOVE (January 12, 2024)

1/11/2024
The finest things that we can say are sometimes framed as negatives. Here’s one: “Love never gives up, never loses faith” (1 Cor 13:8). That’s why we celebrate what the Bible so often calls God’s “steadfast love”—His unchanging, unyielding, untiring affection for every human being. He doesn’t warm to us when we are nice on sunny Tuesdays—or grow remote and cold when we stay home from church. He doesn’t offer, like some parents, affection earned by good behavior. He doesn’t icily withdraw into the vastness of His universe when we play gossip, doubter, thief, or prodigal. He pledges His good will toward us with an unshakeable tenacity we can’t begin to grasp, never mind reciprocate. In Him, “there is never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency” (James 1:17). “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Grace is the face God turns toward us when in our shame we cannot bear to look at Him. And still He urges, “Look to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth” (Isa 45.22). Look now, and be amazed. You’ll never be the same. Then stay in grace. -Bill Knott

Duration:00:02:03