Thursday, September 10, 2020

1888 Message Study : Sharing the Story of Jesus

"SHARING THE STORY OF JESUS"

 

 

"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

1 John 5:13

 

As we contemplate the topic for this week's study, this quote from Ellen White comes to mind: "Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life. The receiver becomes a giver. The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life." DA 195.2. Note what she says, "He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life…The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all…". Sharing the story of Jesus is our privilege. As a church we believe that we are living in the time of the end, the cosmic Day of Atonement, the hour of the cleansing of the sanctuary. Therefore, we read Ephesians with the knowledge that we are living in a time of unprecedented crisis. We have been called to preach the everlasting gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people for such a time as this. The fact is, the good news is better than we think and this week we start with Ephesians.

 

Ephesians 2:1-10, a favorite of every child of God says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

 

Having exercised his rights as a Roman citizen, Paul was taken to Rome as a prisoner and this book is written from prison in Rome. Ephesians 3:1, "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles" and Ephesians 4:1, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called", confirm the Epistle was written from prison. During this time all manner of evil was rampant and amidst this chaos the apostle Paul was inspired to write this awesome book. In fact, this book has been called "the Alps of the New Testament". Speaking about the specific text in this week's lesson Ellen White says this: "God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, ... and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Such are the words in which "Paul the aged," "a prisoner of Jesus Christ," writing from his prison house at Rome, endeavored to set before his brethren that which he found language inadequate to express in its fullness—"the unsearchable riches of Christ," the treasure of grace freely offered to the fallen sons of men. The plan of redemption was laid by a sacrifice, a gift." 5T 730.1,2.

 

We want to share Jesus with the world and what it means to be saved by "the exceeding riches of His grace" and what it means that this salvation is "not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works."

 

From Adam, we have all inherited a fallen nature. It was and still is the natural thing for us to "walk according to the course of this world". We "once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh,…and were by nature children of wrath." "But God"! These are two of the most powerful words in Scripture. These two words set up a contrast. What is it that moves God to act? The apostle immediately answers. "But God, Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us5 even when we were dead in trespasses…". Our misery called out His mercy! We were dead, BUT GOD; we were by nature children of wrath, BUT GOD; we were without strength, BUT GOD; we were His enemies, BUT GOD; we were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel BUT GOD, strangers from the covenants of promise, without hope, BUT GOD; Satan may seem triumphant, BUT GOD! The world needs to hear the story of Jesus. Paul was so amazed at this indescribable gift that his own testimony in 1 Timothy 1:14, 15 says, "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

 

Another significant part of the good news is in verses 8 and 9. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Note that the text does not say that we are saved by faith. If this was the case, we would be making faith into works. The text does say, "For by grace you have been saved through faith", faith being an appreciation of the grace of God, and that saving grace was revealed at the cross of Jesus Christ. Grace does not wipe out the reality of obedience to the commandments. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age". Titus 2:11, 12. What are the dimensions of this grace? "Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:20, 21. This is why Paul could say in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

 

A.T. Jones says this: "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8By grace are ye saved, because it is the grace, that is the favor of God, that brings salvationThat favor being given freely and without measure to every one of us, bringing salvation to all, so the salvation of God is free to all men. To every one of us it is given freely, without measure and without reserve." ARSH April 24, 1894, page 264.1

 

"Though all this be true, the Lord will never compel any man to take it. God has made man free, too, and therefore every man is absolutely free to accept this salvation or to reject it, as he chooses. God does not want and will not have any unwilling service. And therefore it is that "by grace are ye saved through faith." Faith is for us to exercise. Therefore, it is written: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." ARSH April 24, 1894, page 265.1

 

"And God has given the faith too. For did we not read above that "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God"? And is it not written in another place, "Looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith"? And yet again: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"? Jesus Christ is the Author of faith; the word of God is the channel through which it comes; and God gave both Jesus and the word,—or rather, in giving Jesus He gave the word, and in giving the word He gave Jesus,—so that in every sense, faith is the gift of God." ARSH April 24, 1894, page 265.2

 

"And He has given faith to every man. For it is written: "Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above): or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead). But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach." Romans 10:6-8. "Think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Chapter 12:3. Thus, God has put faith into the mouth and into the heart of every man." ARSH April 24, 1894, page 265.3 ATJ

 

All the forgoing is the basis of our testimony - what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Importantly, of the 10 verses that we have focused on, only 3 are on our life before Christ. The remaining 6 verses of Ephesians 2:1-10 are focused on Jesus Christ and what He has done for us and wants to do in us. This gospel transformed the disciples. John together with his brother, were "Boanerges", the "sons of thunder." John would go on to say, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you…" 1 John 1:1-3. Peter could not help but share what he had received. "Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." He preached truth boldly at Pentecost and 3000 souls were added to them that day. It changed the man with the unclean spirit ravaged by demons, so much so that chains and shackles, "neither could tame him". After Jesus healed him, he was left "sitting and clothed and in his right mind". We all need what that demoniac received that day from Jesus. This is the story of Ephesians 2:1-10. The demoniac went out and shared the story of Jesus!

 

I John 5:11-13 says, "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. We have assurance today, as long as we "receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness."

 

Perhaps this passage from Paul in Ephesians 3:8, 9 is a good place to end. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God Who created all things through Jesus Christ".

 

"Our Lord designed that His church should reflect to the world the fullness and sufficiency that we find in Him. We are constantly receiving of God's bounty, and by imparting of the same we are to represent to the world the love and beneficence of Christ. While all heaven is astir, dispatching messengers to every part of the earth to carry forward the work of redemption, the church of the living God is also to be co-laborers with Christ. Jesus Himself, in His infinite mercy, is working on human hearts, effecting spiritual transformations so amazing that angels look on with astonishment and joy. The same unselfish love that characterizes the Master is seen in the character and life of His true followers. Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world, thus not only reflecting His glory to the praise of God, but illumining the darkness of the world with the radiance of heaven. Thus, will be fulfilled the words of Christ: "Ye are the light of the world." 5T 731.1 Amen!

 

Let us share the story of Jesus!

 

~Lyndi Schwartz

Friday, September 04, 2020

1888 Message Study : An Exciting Way to Get Involved

https://www.1888msc.org/resources/ssi/2020-q3/an-exciting-way-to-get-involved

"AN EXCITING WAY TO GET INVOLVED"

 

 

"Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.' " Matthew 9:37, 38

 

This week's topic is close to my heart. Meeting together in small groups can be a real blessing to inspire, encourage, and grow believers in the faith of Jesus. In this week's Insights I'd like to share some of our personal experiences with small groups. 

 

We wouldn't have known about the 1888 message were it not for the invitation of a friend to attend a seminar on Romans and a subsequent invitation to attend a weekly Bible study in which the facilitator (an excellent teacher, by the way) introduced us to the major concepts of the 1888 message in a crowded apartment living room. With Bibles spread across our laps, we felt like the disciples on the road to Emmaus as we discovered Christ in the Word as we had never seen before. "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" Yes, theirs did. And so did ours. The thing that kept us coming back to that study week after week was a hunger for the righteousness of Christ. The fellowship was wonderful, too, but it was our shared appreciation of the 1888 message that forged deep bonds of friendship that now span more than three decades. We get the sense as we read Paul's letters that he, too, enjoyed fellowship with a core group of like-minded believers and evangelists who worked with unstoppable zeal to carry the gospel to distant lands. 

 

In our next stage of life, we relocated to a new community where many Adventists lived. Hoping to rekindle our previous experience, we started a Monday night study group at our home. We invited friends and fellow church members. They brought other friends. Attendance waxed and waned over the years. We were blessed to have Elder and Mrs. Donald Short present at many of these gatherings. His insights were succinct and profound. Eventually, we also planned activities for young children in the middle of the room, providing coloring pages and crayons so they could do something with their hands during the study. We did this for 11 years, seldom missing a night.  

 

The result? In retrospect, I am not aware of any real fruit for the kingdom of heaven that ensued from those meetings. Only eternity will reveal for sure. It just seemed like our efforts were unavailing. Our study was sabotaged on numerous occasions by emissaries of distraction. One older gentleman who attended faithfully seemed to have another agenda. Apparently representing an offshoot, he worked insidiously to draw people to the movement he was a part of. Others also came regularly to disrupt our study and push their own agenda. Several were adamant that God saved people one way in the Old Testament and another way in the New. Eternity will tell the rest of the story.

 

At any rate when we moved to another rural community with few Seventh-day Adventists, we decided to change our approach.  The first small group we started consisted of one couple from church and another couple who had not been active Adventists for more than 25 years. Our study format was simple. We decided to read through Patriarchs and Prophets together. After a couple of years of growing our friendship during our weekly meetings, our backslidden friends said, "You know, we really should go back to church." Their family had been through some very unfair and hurtful experiences at the behest of a church entity, and their trust in the organization had waned even though in their hearts they still believed the message. As we read Patriarchs and Prophets together, little did we know the work that the Holy Spirit was accomplishing in their hearts. They have been welcomed back into church fellowship with much joy, and they are now both among the most active members. 

 

There are many out there like these friends who have been hurt in the church or by the church. Often these grievances were never dealt with appropriately, and the wounds never healed. As we understand the gospel principle of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12), we can express corporate repentance for the wrongs committed on behalf of the church, even if those who committed the wrongs never personally apologize. If the hand strikes someone and injures them, the mouth (another part of the body) can confess the wrong and ask forgiveness. That's how a body works. Together. There's no use in pointing fingers at the body because we are one. 

 

In this new location, we found that even though we were no longer having a large study group in our home, the devil found other ways to attack. This time, prayer meeting at church was the target, again through unconsecrated individuals who interrupted the meeting. The most egregious example was a man (not an Adventist) who came for several months who became threatening to several participants in the class. Eventually, for everyone's safety and to stop him from continuing his work, prayer meeting was shut down. That was really unfortunate.

 

What to do? For me, the answer was sharing in the home with those of other faiths (and often one or two church members as well). Even then, there have been challenges, but personal, in-home Bible studies have produced the most fruit (apparently) more than any other approach I have experienced. As we sit at the table or by the fireside, I have learned to watch the face of the Bible student light up after reading a Scripture and exclaim: "Oh! I never saw that before!" The thrill of seeing heaven's light dawn on a mind is an experience I crave! I am helpless to generate it, but I can certainly see evidence of it when the Holy Spirit is working. 

 

Now we must admit that our church and our world are facing challenges the likes of which we have never seen before. Masks, social distancing, a stealthy disease and (worst of all) fear have changed how we live our lives and relate to each other. Is now the time to stop Bible studies? Is now the time to curtail personal ministries? To discontinue our health and outreach programs at church? To stop speaking to our neighbors? No!

 

This pandemic has the attention of the world. People are desperate for answers. Not a few want to know what the Bible says about what is happening now. This is a heaven-sent opportunity (not that God caused the disease but that He can work all things together for good) if we can open our eyes to see it as such. Let us not let this situation stop us from sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ! The world needs to hear and see, like never before, of the self-giving agape love of Christ. We should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The antidote to the fear and injustice is the most precious of message of Jesus and His righteousness. Protests may effect outward reforms, but the gospel goes deeper and heals the wounds of the heart.

 

This situation has not caught God by surprise. He still has a work for us to do, and we will be doing this until every last soul on earth has heard the Good News:

 

"The plan of holding Bible readings [studies] was a heaven-born idea. There are many, both men and women, who can engage in this branch of missionary labor. Workers may thus be developed who will become mighty men of God. By this means the word of God has been given to thousands, and the workers are brought into personal contact with people of all nations and tongues." CH 192

 

And in our virtual age, personal ministry is still the best: "The more direct our labor for our fellow men, the greater good will be accomplished. Personal influence is a power. The minds of those with whom we are closely associated are impressed through unseen influences. One cannot speak to a multitude and move them as he could if he were brought into closer relationship to them." CH 192

 

"The best work you can do is to teach, to educate. Wherever you can find an opportunity to do so, sit down with some family, and let them ask questions. Then answer them patiently, humbly. Continue this work in connection with your more public efforts. Preach less, and educate more, by holding Bible readings, and by praying with families and little companies." CH 193

 

"Wherever you can gain access to the people by the fireside, improve your opportunity. Take your Bible, and open before them its great truths. Your success will not depend so much upon your knowledge and accomplishments, as upon your ability to find your way to the heart. By being social and coming close to the people, you may turn the current of their thoughts more readily than by the most able discourse. The presentation of Christ in the family, by the fireside, and in small gatherings in private houses is often more successful in winning souls to Jesus than are sermons delivered in the open air, to the moving throng, or even in halls or churches." CH 193

 

Heaven's methods are the best! "In visions of the night representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God's people. Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought . . . . Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families, and opening before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seems to be lightened with the heavenly influence. Great blessings were received by the true and humble people of God." 9T 126

 

May it be us -- God's people in this generation -- that our dear messenger of the Lord saw in vision! 

 

In closing, I'd like to recommend a couple of resources that may be of value: The Glad Tidings and Waggoner on Romans. Written by E. J. Waggoner, both books contain many rich gems of gospel truth, present truth for us today. 

 

Amazon's description of Waggoner on Romans is as follows:

 

"Paul's Letter to the Romans proclaimed a gospel that turned his world upside down, set Europe ablaze in Luther's day, 'strangely warmed' Wesley's lukewarm heart in England's cynical eighteenth century, and ignited the soul of our (sic) young Ellet J. Waggoner just before this [20th] century began. Inspired by refreshingly unique insights into the Romans concept of Christ's active drawing of 'every man' and justification by faith, Waggoner proceeded to challenge the legalistic thinking of his revered elders in the ministry. His mature thinking crystallized into a year-long series of articles on Romans in the Signs of the Times from October, 1895, through September, 1896. Buried in the archives ever since, these studies now for the first time see publication in book form. Waggoner's The Glad Tidings, his verse-by-verse study of Galatians, has gladdened many hearts in recent years. This new companion book will meet with a hearty welcome from friendly thousands who have discovered what Ellen White discovered—something 'most precious' in his message."

 

If you are spiritually starved for food that will warm the heart and heal the soul, please check out these resources (Bookstore) and share with wisdom as God opens the way. And pray for the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to His field!

 

~Patti Guthrie


Friday, August 28, 2020

1888 Message Study : Developing a Winning Attitude

"DEVELOPING A WINNING ATTITUDE"

 

 

"Developing a Winning Attitude".  No, it's not the title of the latest "self-help" best-seller, but a lesson on "Developing a SOUL-Winning Attitude"!

 

If you aren't in the habit of reading the SS lesson, and haven't read it this week, then I want you, right now, to STOP, go read this SS lesson, and then come back to our SS Insight for this week.

 

This week's lesson is excellent.  Please, please don't miss reading it.

 

The lesson points out, "the last place the disciples expected to find hearts receptive to the gospel was in Samaria."  We might need to ask ourselves, where do we believe our "Samaria" to be?  What is the "last place" that we expect to find hearts "receptive to the gospel"?  Atheism?  Islam?  Young people?  LGBTQ+?  Wealthy, worldly, and well-educated?  Etc?

 

Do we believe that the only potentially promising field is disgruntled Catholics and open-minded Protestants?  And beyond that, we have little hope of finding "hearts receptive to the gospel", just as the disciples had little hope?

 

The lesson goes on to point out, "Jesus saw what the disciples did not see: receptive hearts. . . .  When our eyes are divinely anointed by the Holy Spirit, we see possibilities where others see only difficulties.  We see a rich harvest of souls for the kingdom of God where others see only barren fields."

 

Ellen White supports the lesson's idea: "never regard the most hardened sinner as beyond the reach of the grace of God . . .  (God) can bring the most selfish, sin-hardened soul to Christ."

 

Never forget Romans 2:4!  ". . . the goodness of God leads to repentance".  No matter what or where our "Samaria" is, when we present the "goodness of God", meaning the "good news" about God, ALL will be led to repentance.

 

Notice how E.J. Waggoner powerfully unpacks this verse:

 

"And we need not try to improve on the Scriptures, and say that the goodness of God tends to lead men to repentance. The Bible says that it does lead them to repentance, and we may be sure that it is so. Every man is being led toward repentance as surely as God is good. But not all repent. Why? Because they despise the riches of the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God, and break away from the merciful leading of the Lord. But whoever does not resist the Lord, will surely be brought to repentance and salvation." {July 19, 1894 EJW, PTUK 452.6}

 

Notice two things about how Jesus talked with the woman at the well that led to His success with her:

 

  1. He didn't allow their new friendship to be immediately strained by a controversial theological point – in this situation, "where is the right location for worship" (today we might debate what's the right style of worship – not a debate for early relationships).  She was attempting to use a theological debate to divert the conversation away from her awakening conscience.  She thought, "if I can change the subject to something impersonal and theological, then we won't continue on this path of conversation about my need for 'living water'".  May we have this wisdom to build confidence and comfort and friendship, before engaging on more difficult topics.  As Ellen White said, "There is common ground, upon which we can meet people of all denominations; and in becoming acquainted with them, we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement." PUR, June 22, 1905 par. 3}.

Common sense, yes?

 

  1. Notice the woman's testimony to the others in her city.  ""Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"  Very few of us would be eager to be around someone who knew, "all things that I ever did"!  Why?  Because very often we still feel a sense of guilt and shame for what we've done in the past, and we fear rejection and shame from others if they "knew all that we ever did".  Yet, this woman with a history of multiple failed and most likely multiple adulterous relationships, felt safe in Christ's presence to the point that she wanted to introduce Him to her neighbors!

 

Notice how Pastor Finley, the lessons principal contributor, articulates this point.  "you are accepted in Christ, who knows all about the things that others might not know anything about.  Yes, He knows all of that, and, yet, He accepts you anyway, not because of your own goodness but because of His."  May people have this same safety and acceptance with each of us.  This ought to be one of the fruits of belief in the 1888 message gospel truths.

 

Ellen White gets to the core of the evangelistic success of Jesus, and calls us to the same evangelistic approach:

 

"If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."  (9T 189).

 

Complicated formula isn't it!  Humble, kind, courteous, tenderhearted, pitiful.  The key to evangelistic success.  Doable?  Yes!

 

Notice – one hundred baptisms where now there is one – by being humble, kind, courteous, tenderhearted, and pitiful!  If you had 5 baptisms last year in your local church, you would have had 500!  The Seventh-day Adventist church has nearly 25 million (25,000,000) adherents.  Is it conceivable that if the attitude and principles outlined above – humility, kindness, courtesy, tenderheartedness, pity – were adhered to, we would have 100x our current membership?  Instead of 25 million, there would be 2.5 BILLION (2,500,000,000) Seventh-day Adventists?  The gospel IS the power!

 

Is it possible that too often we've preached doctrine - merely, but haven't preached OR LIVED Christ?  Is there a difference between "the truth", and "the truth as it is in Jesus"?  Is it true that, "the strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian"? {MH 470.1}.  Is it possible to be able to articulate the mechanics and specifics of the gospel, and yet be infantile in our experience and revelation of the gospel?

 

          It's time to grow up.

          It's time to "develop a (soul) winning attitude".

          What does that look like?  Humility, kindness, courtesy, tenderheartedness, pity.

          How can we experience it?  Romans2:4 – "the goodness of God leads to repentance" as sure as God is good!

 

~Bob Hunsaker

https://www.1888msc.org/resources/ssi/2020-q3/developing-a-winning-attitude

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

1888 Message Study : Sharing the Word

"SHARING THE WORD"

 

 

The purpose of this week's lesson is about sharing God's word. It presents various aspects and applications of the Word. Each day outlines these particulars by the use of "Symbols of God's Word" (Sunday); "The Creative Power of God's Word" (Monday); "The Benefits of Studying God's Word" (Tuesday); "Applying God's Word" (Wednesday) all of which leads to "Sharing the Word" with others (Thursday).

 

The memory verses for this week begins with the adverb "so" – "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void …" Isaiah 55:11.

 

The word "so" compares God's word with what went before. Here the word means "in the same manner" as it finishes the thought from verse 10 – "As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, [then verse 11 finishes the thought" – "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

 

God speaks His word to prepare and to accomplish what He sends it to do as it lodges in the fertile soil of the mind. Words are thoughts made audible. God declares His thoughts to us by speaking. Amos wrote that God "declares to man what His thought is" (Amos 4:13). God's desire is that Christ, through the Word, will abide in your heart and mine.

 

Perhaps you have used or heard the expression "I am going to give 'so and so' a piece of my mind." How is this accomplished? Simply by speaking what is on the mind. Likewise, God gives us a piece of His mind through His written word and through the Word, Christ. "He was the Word of God, -- God's thought made audible" (The Desire of Ages, p. 19).

 

Christ, the Word of God, created the world. After He created earth and everything in and on it, He made Adam. From earth, He formed the human body and all the organs therein. Then Jesus knelt down and breathed into Adam's nostrils and mouth. Christ breathed into Adam and thus mankind with the kiss of life.

 

The term Adam includes both male and female. Both were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). In the family records of the descendants of Adam, beginning in Genesis 5:1, Christ calls both Adam and Eve "Adam" 4:2 (KJV) – "Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created." Other translations call them "mankind." Well over 500 times "Adam" means mankind.

 

When the man "Adam" and his wife sinned, they lost much of God's image. However, the Lord immediately put into operation the plan of redemption which is simply the carrying out of His original plan of creation that man shall be in His image. In redemption, this is accomplished by the same creative power – God's word.

 

Jesus is Creator and Redeemer. He redeems by His word. His promise is that "if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature/creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Through the plan of Redemption, the same powerful creative word works to accomplish what God sends it to do. And also, the Sabbath plays a role here. The Sabbath is the memorial of God's power in creation. It is likewise the memorial of redemption. In both creation and in redemption, we have the same Person, Christ as Creator and Redeemer; the same power, His word; and the same Sabbath, as the memorial of redemption and of creation.

 

As Jesus is the light of the world He created, He also lightens every person "coming into the world" for the purpose of redemption. The written word is creative. And it is called both light and a lamp that guides us into and within the path of life (John 1:9; Psalm 119:105). Along with this symbol of light, there are other symbols used in Scripture as metaphors and similes giving word pictures of what God's word will do in our lives. His word is "like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces" (Jeremiah 23:29). The word, as a hammer, breaks up the hard heart and this same word creates a new heart of appreciation because of Christ and His righteousness abiding there by faith.

 

God's word is also likened to the piercings of a sword which inflicts a heavy or fatal blow upon nations and people (Proverbs 12:18; Revelation 19:15). This use of the word has to do with judgment.

 

His word is illustrated, in another context, as bread by which we are to live. This is how Jesus lived – by faith in every word of God. When tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus answered "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).

 

Elder Waggoner used "grass" as an illustration of the weakness of man, but joined to the power of God and what He can and will do in our lives:

 

"Although two of the weakest and most helpless things in existence, yet what miracles of strength the grass and the acorn become when their weakness is united to the power of God's word. In like manner we behold man. Weak? Yes, as weak as the grass and as helpless. 'His days are as grass,' 'and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.' His life, - 'even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.' Helpless, utterly helpless in himself, unable to care for himself a single moment, unable to resist the smallest temptation, unable to do one good act.

 

"But look again. An unseen power has taken possession of him, a new life has animated him, and lo, he has 'subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness was made strong, waxed the valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens!' In that wherein he was weak, now he is strong, where once he would have trembled and fallen, now he stands unmoved like a house built upon a solid rock.

 

"What is this unseen power? What is this new life? It is the life and power of God's word united with man's weakness. It is the life and power of God Himself, for God goes with His word 'working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight.' 'For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."  E. J. Waggoner, English Present Truth, October 12, 1893.

 

Mrs. White also used biblical symbols to instruct us regarding respect and reverence for the pure word of God.

 

"We should reverence God's word. For the printed volume we should show respect, never putting it to common uses, or handling it carelessly. And never should Scripture be quoted in a jest, or paraphrased to point a witty saying. "Every word of God is pure;" "as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." (Proverbs 30:5; Psalm 12:6.). Education, 244.

 

And E.J. Waggoner wrote about the power of God's word:

 

"He [Jesus] did not speak the word which set somebody else to work, but His word itself did the work. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." "He spake, and it was." Ps. 33:6, 9. This miracle of Jesus [in healing the impotent man] was therefore simply a manifestation of the creative power of God's word." E. J. Waggoner, "American Sentinel Articles," March 2, 1899. Emphasis original.

 

In conclusion. As we take the word of God into our lives, by faith, it changes us. And in whatever way God's word is symbolized whether, as fire, a hammer, seed, bread, or light – these have a single common point, which is the power to change our lives. Whatever symbol is used, it is used to reveal what the word will do in transforming our lives and the lives of those with whom we share as they accept it as authoritative in their lives.

 

As we study and allow the word to do what it promises, we will desire to share what it will do with others who accept it as their rule of life. And it is only with a changed life that enables us to effectively share with others what the word has accomplished in our own lives. This will have a powerful effect on those who hear and believe.

 

~ Jerry Finneman