Friday, July 13, 2018

Waiting for the Wedding-Michael Duncan




JULY 14, 2018


"The Camp Meeting. Church Government" The Topeka Daily Capital, 11, 113, p. 4.

by A. T. Jones
May 12, 1889

Mrs. White being unable to speak, Elder A.T. Jones continued his sermons on "church government." Beginning at 1 Corinthians 14:11-25, when it is shown that the church at Corinth seemed to more earnestly desire the gift of tongues than any other; so Paul tells them rather to desire prophecy, because an unknown tongue was a sign to unbelievers, while prophesying was for edification of the church, speaking in tongues being of no profit to the hearers unless interpreted. Now read verses 26 and onward. Here we have the direction to keep silent if one has the gift of tongues and there be no interpreter. Then what is the use of the gift if it requires the two to make the gift available? Why not let the interpreter tell it at once? Because, verse 22, it is for a sign to unbelievers. Now, if all spoke with tongues the unbelievers would think all were lunatics, but if one prophecy his inmost secrets maybe revealed and he be convicted and repent. For an unbeliever to hear his neighbor whom he knows gets up and talks in an unknown tongue, and another of his neighbors arise and explains his words he is forced to realize there is some high power exercising all. This I introduce to show you how the gifts work together. Now, verse 27, 28 and onward—ye are members of the body and God has set them in the body as he pleases, illustrating the church and its members under the figure of the body, and has set the members not to please them, but to please himself. Therefore if you and I try to set the members in the church as it suits us, will it be likely to do good work as it would if we let God do it? If all are controlled by the Lord will my actions please him if I take out of his hands the control of the members? How has God set the members; apostles, prophets, teachers, after that miracles, helps, governments, diversity of tongues. The gift of teaching then is not to be counted as one of the least, standing third in the list and before miracles, so then it is a greater thing to instruct others in the word of God than it is to work miracles. {May 12, 1889 ATJ, TDC 4.8}

Now turn to Romans 12:6-8 and read of other gifts that are compliments to each other. One may have the faculty of teaching, yet he may not be able to exhort which another does possess without the ability to teach. They working together are a help to one another. God could and would bless each separately, but united they would become a power. That being so then there never ought to be room in the church of Christ for jealousy or envy. Paul carries these things further, 1 Corinthians 12:31. But he says "covet earnestly the best gifts." Is not that then a commandment of the Lord? Are we doing it? If not why not? Read also 14:1, desire spiritual gifts; also chapter 12:1, who would not leave you ignorant—Christ. Are we ignorant? Do we study spiritual gifts? If we do not believe in them we shall be ignorant of them, because faith must always go before knowledge. If we believe, desire follows, and what next: covet earnestly the best gifts." "Yet show I you a more excellent way." {May 12, 1889 ATJ, TDC 4.9}

Suppose we could get all these gifts by desiring them, what good would it do us? None whatever. If a company in this place could speak with the tongues of angels and had all the other gifts, and had all benevolence and faith, they would be worthless. If then we could obtain all these gifts simply by coveting them they would be profitless without the love of God in the heart shed abroad by faith in Jesus Christ, we would be a tinkling cymbal. How then do we obtain them that they may be a benefit to us? By getting the love of God. If given to us because we want them simply, we would not appreciate them and use them to the honor and glory of God. What then is charity and what does it do? "Charity suffereth long, and is kind." Will suffer and be kind while it continues, will not rebel or lose temper. If we are wrongly accused ought we to be glad that it is not true, and thank God that it is not? 1 Peter 2:19-23. It is no glory if we be corrected for our faults and submit, but if we exercise patience under wrong reproach then God is pleased with us, that is acceptable with God. That is the grace of God, which enables us to bear it. One who is in the right can afford to wait and will never lose by doing it. Christ is an example of this to us…That was Christ's method and He was the embodiment of charity. Charity envieth not. Envy means; to see against, to look askance at pain, uneasiness or discontent excited by anther's superiority or success, accompanied generally with a desire to see him unsuccessful. So then whoever envies another confesses his own unworthiness. Have we had such feelings? Very well, that is envy and not charity. {May 12, 1889 ATJ, TDC 4.10}

~Patti Guthrie

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Watching Versus Waiting

Watching Versus Waiting

People use the words 'watch' and 'wait' synonymously.  However, there is a subtle difference between the two. To wait means to be in readiness or to remain at rest in expectation. To watch is to look and wait expectantly or in anticipation. You can wait while doing other activities.  Watching encompasses the concept of waiting and requires full attention from the watcher. A person may be waiting and still miss the thing they are waiting for, but this is unlikely to happen if they are watching. The following story illustrates the difference.

Gina, a young girl, asked her grandmother to watch for her as she was coming to visit that day for the weekend.  And naturally, Grandma Lisa promised she would. Wanting to stress the importance of her request, Gina repeated it several times to her grandma, asking, "You'll watch, won't you? You'll watch for me grandma, right?" Lisa, who was now becoming exasperated, responded several times that she would. On the day that Gina was due to arrive, Grandma Lisa thought, "I still have time to complete a few chores before Lisa visits, so I'll just do them and then go outside and wait for Gina and her parents." However, despite Grandma's best intentions, she became engrossed in her tasks and lost track of time. Suddenly, Grandma Lisa heard the bell. "Oh no, she thought, that can't be Gina already."  Running to the door, Lisa opened it expecting to see an excited Gina. But instead, Gina was sorrowful. "Why the sad face Gina, aren't you happy to see your Grandmother?" Grandma Lisa asked. To which her granddaughter responded, "Grandma, you did not watch for me like I asked you." "Honey," said Grandma, "I was preparing things for you, while I waited for you." "But Grandma," replied Gina, "I did not want you to wait for me; I wanted you to watch for me." She wanted her grandma to be outside expectantly looking for her.

This story reminded me of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25).  Christ portrayed them as standing or sitting expectantly awaiting the groom who could appear at any time.  As the night grew old, the bridesmaids fell asleep.  While asleep a loud cry woke them in the middle of the night, "The Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him."  As they opened their eyes, the night was dark, and they could barely see, so they rushed to light their lamps.  We know the rest of the story; some could light their lamps because they had extra oil. Others, unprepared with extra oil, could neither light their lamps to herald his coming nor enter in with the Bridegroom. What is represented by the oil?  Ellen White is quoted in the devotional, "That I May Know Him," with an answer to this question.

In the parable, the foolish virgins are represented as begging for oil and failing to receive it at their request. This is symbolic of those who have not prepared themselves by developing a character to stand in a time of crisis. It is as if they should go to their neighbors and say, 'Give me your character or I shall be lost.' Those that were wise could not impart their oil to the flickering lamps of the foolish virgins. Character is not transferable. It is not to be bought or sold; it is to be acquired (That I May Know Him, p. 350).

In contrast to the foolish virgins, the wise virgins had righteous characters.  So, although the wise virgins appeared to be as indolent as the foolish ones - none of them were watching for the Groom - the wise virgins had retained oil, and therefore were prepared for the wait. Living by faith, they were enabled to receive the groom.  With that said, what would have pleased the Bridegroom more: if the virgins had been waiting or watching?  Or both?

As the Groom approached the bridesmaids, he must have noticed that they had been sleeping and that five were missing.  We can only imagine his perplexity and disappointment, as he questioned, "Weren't they supposed to stay awake and light the way to the banquet hall? How is it they all fell asleep? And why were only five prepared for the delay?"  "They all knew I could come at any time. …" It did not look good.
Was this a sign of things to come?  This incident revealed that the bridesmaids became weary after the long delay. And that while they anticipated a delay, they did not expect an extended wait period.

There are things hidden deep within the recesses of each of our minds, things which only the Holy Spirit through time and circumstances can reveal to us, that we may through repentance and forgiveness, receive its blotting out. Whenever the Lord gives a promise, a period of waiting ensues before He fulfills His promise to us. His goal is neither to drive us to distraction nor to frustrate us. Instead, He desires us to wait patiently, expectantly, watching, enduring and persevering until its fulfillment.

Waiting is not a natural human tendency. We want whatever it is right now. And our selfish natures find many ways of attaining our desires. Often subconsciously we present our thinking or behavior in the most moral or rational light, as we attempt to conceal our true purpose, for self to gain the promised blessing now.

Jesus implied that in the Christian's life, waiting patiently would be an issue; that's why He went so far as to say, "When I come, will I find faith on the earth?" The delay which He is using for our good, to reveal our true hidden state to us while there is time to repent, is instead used by many to fulfill self's goals, which is to avoid true self-knowledge.

By remaining in union with the source of renewing energy or power, the Holy Spirit, we are enabled by faith to 'be renewed in the Spirit of our minds' (John 15, Romans 12:1). The battle, after all, is for our minds as well as our affections. Watching and waiting patiently are not inactive pursuits; they require vigilance, as well as resting and reposing in the Father.

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek (inquire of) Him."  "You therefore beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest you also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness" (Hebrews 11:6; 2 Peter 3:17).

-Raul Diaz

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