Friday, December 07, 2018

“UNITY AND BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS”

"UNITY AND BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS"

 

Our lesson this week insightfully makes this comment, "Christ took the initiative in reconciling us to Himself. It is the "goodness of God [that] leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4, NKJV). In Christ we were reconciled to God while we were yet sinners. Our repentance and confession do not create reconciliation. Christ's death on the cross did; our part is to accept what was done for us." (Sabbath School Quarterly, p. 84 standard edition)

 

Notice two key elements in this statement, and ultimately in the gospel. One, our condition at the time of God's act as sinners, and, two, how God related to us as sinners – "took the initiative", "reconciling", "goodness", "reconciled". Christ's death on the cross revealed the reconciliation in God's heart. His heart that He had ALWAYS had towards us.

 

Let's look at these two elements from Scripture. First, our attitude and heart and thoughts towards God:

 

  • The carnal mind is enmityagainst God – Romans 8:7
  • When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly – Romans 5:6
  • While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – Romans 5:8
  • When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son – Romans 5:10
  • Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ – Acts 4:25-26
  • And you, . . alienated and enemies in your mind by wickedworks, yet now hath He reconciled – Colossians1:21
  • By nature the children of wrath(our wrath towards God) – Ephesians 2:3
  • And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins – Ephesians 2:1

 

Now, let's look at the 2nd element, God's attitude and heart and thoughts towards us:

 

Note several of the above verses:

  • We were without strength and ungodly and sinners – and Christ died for us – Romans 5:6
  • When we were His enemies – Christ's death reconciled us to God
    – Romans 5:10
  • We were alienated, enemies, wicked – and Christ reconciledus
    – Colossians 1:21
  • When we had wrath towards God, He demonstrated "rich mercy", and "great love" – Ephesians 2:4
  • When we were dead in trespasses and sins, He made us alive – Ephesians 2:1

 

And how about these other verses:

  • Christ suffered once for sins . . . that He might bring us to God – 1 Peter 3:18
  • God, has reconciled us to Himself – 2 Corinthians 5:18
  • God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himselfnot imputing their trespasses to them – 2 Corinthians 5:19
  • have blotted out your transgressions, and your sins.  Return to Me, for I have redeemed you – Isaiah44:22

 

NOTICE – the blotting out of transgressions, sins, and redemption, precede the returning!!!

 

Don't miss this vital principle of the gospel. The plan of salvation IS NOT about anyone (INCLUDING JESUS), getting God to love us, care for us, accept us, forgive us, redeem us, be reconciled to us, be merciful to us, etc. God already loves, cares, forgives, redeems, accepts, reconciles, and is merciful to us.

 

The plan of salvation is first and foremost a revelation of God's love and goodness to us, and then a response from us of acceptance, reconciliation, repentance, appreciation – FAITH.

 

The function of Jesus in the salvation "equation" is not to get God on our side, but TO GET US ON GOD'S SIDE.

 

The gospel is not about reconciling God to us, but us to God.

 

The gospel is not about changing God's heart towards us, but about changing our heart towards God.

 

The gospel is not about getting God to forgive us, but about us accepting God's already existing forgiveness.

 

The gospel is not about appeasing God's wrath towards us, but about appeasing our wrath towards Him!

 

The gospel is not about Jesus functioning as a barrier between us and God's holy justice or anger, but about Jesus being the window whereby we see God as He truly is.

 

The gospel is not about changing God's attitude towards us, it's about changing our attitude towards God.

 

The gospel is not about getting God to love us, but getting us to love Him and His kingdom.

 

Whatever your spiritual paradigm, the fundamental difference between paganism or legalism, and the true gospel, is that at its root, paganism or legalism function to change God's heart towards us. While the true gospel of Jesus Christ is about changing our heart towards God.

 

This is part of the core of the 1888 message. Notice this article from E.J. Waggoner in the era of Ellen White's strongest endorsements:

 

From all that has preceded it is very evident that the only object that Christ could have in coming to earth and dying for men, was the reconciliation of man to God, so that he might have life. "I am come that they might have life." John 10:10. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight." Colossians 1: 21, 22. Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, "that He might bring us to God."
1 Peter 3:18. "If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Romans 5:10.

 

"But," someone will say, "You have made the reconciliation all on the part of men; I have always been taught that the death of Christ reconciled God to man; that Christ died to satisfy God's justice, and to appease Him." Well, we have left the matter of reconciliation just where the Scriptures have put it; and while they have much to say about the necessity for man to be reconciled to God, they never once hint of such a thing as the necessity for God to be reconciled to man. To intimate the necessity for such a thing is to bring a grave charge against the character of God. The idea has come into the Christian Church from the Papacy, which in turn brought it from Paganism, in which the only idea of God was of a being whose wrath must be appeased by a sacrifice.

 

Stop a moment, and think what reconciliation means. The existence of enmity is the only necessity for reconciliation. Where there is no enmity, there is no necessity for reconciliation. Man is by nature alienated from God; he is a rebel, full of enmity. Therefore, man needs to be reconciled-to have his enmity taken away. But God has no enmity in His being. "God is love." Consequently, there is no necessity for Him to be reconciled; there is no possibility of such a thing, for there can be no reconciliation where there has been no enmity.
{September 21, 1893 EJW, PTUK 386.8}

 

Again: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16. Surely, they who say that the death of Christ reconciled God to men, have forgotten this blessed text. They would separate the Father and the Son, making the former the enemy, and the latter the friend, of man. But God's heart was so overflowing with love to fallen man, that He "spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all;" and in so doing He gave Himself, for "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." The Apostle Paul speaks of "the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28. This effectually disposes of the idea that there was any enmity toward man on the part of God, so that He needed to be reconciled. The death of Christ was the expression of God's wonderful love for sinners.
{September 21, 1893 EJW, PTUK 386}

 

May we take from this lesson of how God has worked to restore unity with us, the lesson, that in restoring unity to our broken relationships, may we take the initiative to bring healing and reconciliation and forgiveness to those who are, like us to God, without strength, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. May we relate to others with the spirit of Christ – to initiate unity and peace and atonement – even with those who may never return the same spirit.

 

~Bob Hunsaker


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Thursday, November 29, 2018

1888 Message Study : The Most Convincing Proof

https://www.1888msc.org/resources/ssi/2018-q4/the-most-convincing-proof

"THE MOST CONVINCING PROOF"

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.  Ephesians 1:4,5.

"Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin." (SDA BC 1148)

Have you ever tried to prove something true that you are not sure of yourself? Legal, scientific, and philosophical arguments often provide the platform for just such attempts. For science, 95% probably of being true is respected, while philosophy has a much lower bar. Even in the legal realm, for some disputes, a preponderance of the evidence is enough.

But for true unity, two parties must agree, or be united 100%. We might wonder where on earth we can find such unity. The answer is that we can't. Unity, like every other spiritual blessing, only comes from its heavenly source. Unity with Christ is the only thing that provides proof to the world, manifested in bonds of unity with each other.

The Godhead is united:

For there are three that bear witness in heaven: The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 1 John 5:7.

"The prayer of Christ that His people 'all may be one,' is for unity such as exists between the Father and the Son, a unity that is forever and in all things. Then God will be manifest always and in all things with that people, in ways that are beyond all human comprehension; and the world will know that God did send Jesus, and has loved these, His people, as He loved Jesus." John 17:21-23.  A. T. JONES. (June 1, 1901 ATJ, UCR 14.7)

Only as we unite with the Godhead in their assessment of humanity and their successful plan for salvation can we experience unity here on earth.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 1 John 5:11.

Are we 100% sure of this truth?

Under the Cross of Jesus

1 Corinthians 5:14 tells us that Jesus died not merely a substitutionary, but also a representative, death for all mankind. His humanity was ours, and His death was ours. We were representatively in Him as part of all humanity; we personally enter into that death by faith. The foundation of His death as us was His sacrificial unity with us when we were hopelessly separated from Him. In Him the inheritance of eternal life is already legally established as being bequeathed to everyone.

"Before ascending to heaven, Christ gave His disciples their commission. He told them that they were to be the executors of the will in which He bequeathed to the world the treasures of eternal life."(AA 27)

This is the true foundation of our unity, effective in us to the extent that we accept it. We, like the disciples, are to execute the bequest found in the will of Christ. All other truths we share as Seventh-day Adventists center around the person of Jesus. We tend to focus on what we are doing, how we are responding, what we are believing, as the foundation of our unity. But unity comes when we behold Jesus. He is the great unifier.

Ministry of Reconciliation

It is because God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, and because He accomplished that reconciliation in Christ that we have any ministry at all inviting others to be reconciled.

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18,19.

This invitation is based on the objective reconciliation of the world through the death of Christ, proving that God was forgiving, or not counting against humanity, their sins against Him. We are unified because God has treated all of us the same. Like Israel of old, God has extended to us the fact of His accomplished work in this reconciliation as an incentive to "be reconciled."

Contemplate this passage and note the sequence:

I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22

First God blots out sin. Then He calls for repentance. When we are sure of this truth, we can effectively minister the reconciliation the gospel brings because we see everyone differently (2 Corinthians 5:16).

Practical Unity

While it is true that we are to emulate Christ as our example, the only way we can possibly do this is to emulate His faith, the Faith of Jesus, that relied on the indwelling of the Spirit to direct every step and every word as from His Father. We cannot be like Him without Him dwelling in us moment by moment, letting His mind, His personal presence, dwell in us. "Let this mind dwell in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5

Unity Amid Diversity

The lesson asks this question: Is there anything that we believe and practice as Seventh-day Adventists that all who claim to be Adventists need not believe and adhere to? Wow, that is a loaded question. The Bible talks of diverse gifts given to the church, but not of diverse gospels. Paul was quite clear:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8

If every doctrine was properly centered in Christ, there would be no diverse opinions of what we believe, and a much greater unity in what we practice. The 1888 message was to bring this unity. There would be "command and control" from the true head, Jesus Christ.

"The unity of belief in the church is not forced by the church coming together and the majority defining the creed to be beloved. The church cannot define doctrine, nor make laws for itself or anybody else. The church of Christ is made up of all who obey the Lord's commands not a body to issue commands. The Head directs, the body obeys. God speaks; each one must listen to His voice, for faith comes by hearing the Word of God, and no one can give faith to another. 'It is the gift of God.'" E. J. WAGGONER. (May 8, 1901 EJW, SITI 292.7)

"Many people seem to be ignorant of what constitutes faith. Many complain of darkness and discouragements. I asked, 'Are your faces turned toward Jesus? Are you beholding Him, the Sun of Righteousness? You need plainly to define to the churches the matter of faith and entire dependence upon the righteousness of Christ. In your talks and prayers there has been so little dwelling upon Christ, His matchless love, His great sacrifice made in our behalf, that Satan has nearly eclipsed the views we should have and must have of Jesus Christ. We must trust less in human beings for spiritual help and more, far more, in approaching Jesus Christ as our Redeemer. We may dwell with a determined purpose on the heavenly attributes of Jesus Christ; we may talk of His love, we may tell and sing of His mercies, we may make Him our own personal Saviour. Then we are one with Christ. We love that which Christ loved, we hate sin, that which Christ hated. These things must be talked of, dwelt upon.'"  (3SM 183)

Unity in Mission

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure."  (TM 91)

When we become united in the mission of proclaiming and living the message God commanded to be sent to the world, unity will be perfected. The main reason our church is not unified is that this message has not been accepted as it should be. Our focus remains our subjective response to the gospel rather than the objective truths of the gospel itself. We need our eyes directed to the person of Jesus.

Current Issues with Unity

Consider this in light of today's challenges:

"Oh, how Satan would rejoice to get in among this people, and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings, and to refute claims not endorsed by the word of God. We want to hold the lines evenly, that there may be no breaking down of the system of regulation and order. In this way license will not be given to disorderly elements to control the work.

"We are living in a time when order, system, and unity of action are most essential. And the truth must bind us together like strong cords in order that no distracted efforts may be witnessed among the workers. If disorderly manifestations appear, we must have clear discernment to distinguish the spurious from the genuine. Let no messages be proclaimed until they have borne a careful scrutiny in every jot and tittle.

"My soul is much burdened, for I know what is before us. Every conceivable deception will be brought to bear upon those who have not a daily, living connection with God. Satan's angels are wise to do evil, and they will create that which some will claim to be advanced light, and will proclaim it as new and wonderful; yet while in some respects the message may be truth, it will be mingled with human inventions, and will teach for doctrine the commandments of men. If there was ever a time when we should watch and pray in real earnest, it is now. Many apparently good things will need to be carefully considered with much prayer; for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from it. But the eye of faith may discern that it is diverging, though almost imperceptibly, from the right path. At first it may be thought positively right, but after a while it is seen to be widely divergent from the way which leads to holiness and heaven. My brethren, I warn you to make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way."  (3MR 26-7)

~Todd Guthrie


Friday, November 23, 2018

1888 Message Study : Unity in Faith

https://www.1888msc.org/resources/ssi/2018-q4/unity-in-faith


"UNITY IN FAITH"

 Looking at the title of this week's lesson, it was exciting to contemplate that faith and unity in the SDA church were being recognized as being inextricably tied together.

Continuing on at the beginning of the lesson, the 1888 conference in Minnesota was mentioned in the context of hostile attitudes by all those attending. This, however, is not in accord with Ellen White's statements nor does it dig into the 1888 message itself which she clearly states was sent for His people both then and now. In Testimonies to Ministers (pgs. 91/92), she shows us the importance of this message to God's remnant church:

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family.

All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.

The uplifted Saviour is to appear…sitting upon the throne, to dispense the priceless covenant blessings…Christ is pleading for the church in the heavenly courts above….

God gave to His servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel's message in clear, distinct lines…. This testimony presents the law and the gospel, binding up the two in a perfect whole.

(See Romans 5 and 1 John 3:9 to the close of the chapter).

This is the very work which the Lord designs that the message He has given His servant shall perform in the heart and mind of every human agent. It is the perpetual life of the church to love God supremely and to love others as they love themselves."

So what are some of the things we can learn from this inspired passage?

First, the Lord sent us this message and He sent it "in His great mercy" because we desperately needed it both then and now.

"most precious message" suggests it was the most precious gift He could send us, having already sent His Son to redeem us, "this message points us back to God's agape love and Christ's infinite sacrifice on the cross: "to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour".

This message was sent to "His people", His last day church both then and now. Why? Because in our Laodicean condition, we need it! We think we are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing spiritually. (Revelation 3:17) The truth is that we need Christ, our Saviour. We need His faith and His righteousness to take us through the times ahead!

We are told this message presents "justification through faith in the Surety". This genuine faith is the faith of Jesus and it's His gift to us—we are all given the "measure of faith." (Romans 12:3). It is what we need and when exercised, we receive the "priceless gift of His own righteousness". Righteousness by faith, Christ our righteousness—the core of this most precious message!

Sanctification—Christ as our High Priest, is "pleading for the church in the heavenly courts above". This is also a key aspect of this message as our Saviour cleanses His people and "dispenses the priceless (new) covenant blessings" as hearts are changed and the law is written on the heart. Having been justified by faith and received the gift of Christ's righteousness, both of which are an ongoing experience, we are no longer motivated by fear of punishment or hope of reward. In response to His love and His gifts, our desire is "to love God supremely and to love others as we love ourselves."

We are told "This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice." First, note that God did not suggest but commanded, that we His people give this message to the world suggesting that this is indeed the everlasting gospel and the third angel's message that we and the world need to hear!

Knowing that this was indeed a message sent by God to us, His people, it is important to understand how both the message and the messengers were received at the 1888 conference in Minneapolis. Ellen White's comments and remarks provide an inspired guide as we look back at our history.

Her comments on the messengers, Jones and Waggoner, were supportive and positive with no criticism of any kind. They were challenged to debate on the two covenants but declined. God had sent them to share this most precious message. She described them as "Christians" and "Gentlemen". An example would be the following quote:

"Doctor Waggoner has spoken to us in a straight-forward manner…. Of one thing I am certain, as Christians you have no right to entertain feelings of enmity, unkindness, and prejudice toward Dr. Waggoner, who has presented his view in a plain, straight-forward manner, as a Christian should." (Ms. 15, 1888; Olson, p. 294).

Here is another quote relating to A.T. Jones:

"It is evident that he walks with God, that he has been with Jesus and learned of Him.  He has brought truth into the inner sanctuary of the soul; it is to him a living reality, and he presents the truth in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. The people hear the joyful sound. God speaks to their hearts through the man consecrated to His service…. He becomes really eloquent. He is earnest and sincere and is beloved by those for whom he labors… His defects will be forgiven and forgotten. His hearers will not become weary or disgusted, but will thank God for the message of grace sent them through His servant."("Christian Education", 1893;RHApril 18, 1893).

What did Ellen White think of the message itself that Jones and Waggoner were presenting in 1888? Here is but one example:

"I have had the question asked, what do you think of this light which these men are presenting? Why, I have been presenting it to you for the last forty-five years, --- the matchless charms of Christ. This is what I have been trying to present before your minds. When Brother Waggoner brought out these ideas at Minneapolis, it was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard, excepting the conversations between myself and my husband. I have said to myself, it is because God has presented it to me in vision that I see it so clearly, and they cannot see it because they have not had it presented to them as I have, and when another presented it, every fiber of my heart said amen. (Ms. 5, 1889).

However, the response of the brethren to this wonderful message at the 1888 conference was in total contrast to the message and the messengers. While at the 1888 conference in response to her prayers she had a night vision and was visited by a messenger from God who conducted her to the homes where the brethren were lodging and she heard the criticism of her but "they thought and said worse things of Brethren Jones and Waggoner". The messenger plainly told Ellen White: "Satan has blinded their eyes and perverted their judgment; and unless every soul shall repent of this their sin, this unsanctified independence that is doing insult to the Spirit of God, they will walk in darkness… They would not that God would manifest His Spirit and His power; for they have a spirit of mockery and disgust at My word." As a result, "not one of the company who cherished the spirit manifested at that meeting would again have clear light to discern the preciousness of the truth sent them from heaven until they humbled their pride and confessed." (1888 materials, p.309-311,316,317.1067,1068).

Looking back at the 1888 conference, Ellen White wrote the following: "I can never forget the experience which we had in Minneapolis, or the things which were then revealed to me in regard to the spirit that controlled men, the words spoken, the actions done in obedience to the powers of evil…. They were moved at the meeting by another spirit, and they knew not that God had sent these young men…. To bear a special message to them which they treated with ridicule and contempt, not realizing that the heavenly intelligences were looking upon them… I know that at that time the Spirit of God was insulted." (lt. 24, 1892).

When this message was resisted by the Church leaders, Ellen White went with Jones and Waggoner to take this message directly to the people:

1888 Materials p. 545

"I have travelled from place to place attending meetings where the message of the righteousness of Christ was preached. I considered it a privilege to stand by the side of my brethren and give my testimony with the message for the time and I saw that the power of God attended the message wherever it was spoken.

Suppose that you blot out the testimony that has been going during these last two years proclaiming the righteousness of Christ, who can you point to as bringing out special light for the people? This message as it has been presented should go to every church that claims to believe the truth and bring our people up to a higher stand point.

Based on this testimony, we can see that every church today that claims to believe the truth should be presenting this message. After all, as we have already seen, it is the Third Angel's message and the everlasting gospel that we are to share with the world.

Having looked back at 1888 and the reaction to God's message and His messengers, then the obvious question is — Is this message still relevant to us today? Ellen White counsels us here as well:

"The Lord has raised up Brother Jones and Brother Waggoner to proclaim a message to the world to prepare a people to stand in the day of God." (1888 Materials, pg. 1814). We believe Jesus is coming soon, and she tells us here that we need this message to prepare us, God's people, for the trials and tribulations ahead, so we may stand for Christ as part of the 144,000 that will follow the Lamb wherever He goes, keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus.

Our Sabbath school lesson this week looks at several of our fundamental doctrines as a basis for our faith and unity. Our doctrines are, of course, important but only in light of the cross. This most precious message leads us to focus only on Christ—His infinite agape love, His immeasurable sacrifice on the cross, what He has already done for the entire human race.  Then the faith of Jesus, which is His gift to us, becomes real in our lives, hearts are changed, and Christ's righteousness, also through the power of the Holy Spirit governs our thoughts and our lives. Obedience to the commandments and following our doctrines is then a fruit of His faith and His righteousness in our lives.

This most precious message was always intended to bring unity to God's last day church as it is indeed the everlasting gospel intended for the world.

Blessings, John and Monica Campbell


Friday, November 16, 2018

1888 Message Study : Unity in Faith

https://www.1888msc.org/resources/ssi/2018-q4/unity-in-faith

"UNITY IN FAITH"

 

Looking at the title of this week's lesson, it was exciting to contemplate that faith and unity in the SDA church were being recognized as being inextricably tied together.

Continuing on at the beginning of the lesson, the 1888 conference in Minnesota was mentioned in the context of hostile attitudes by all those attending. This, however, is not in accord with Ellen White's statements nor does it dig into the 1888 message itself which she clearly states was sent for His people both then and now. In Testimonies to Ministers (pgs. 91/92), she shows us the importance of this message to God's remnant church:

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family.

All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.

The uplifted Saviour is to appear…sitting upon the throne, to dispense the priceless covenant blessings…Christ is pleading for the church in the heavenly courts above….

God gave to His servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel's message in clear, distinct lines…. This testimony presents the law and the gospel, binding up the two in a perfect whole.

(See Romans 5 and 1 John 3:9 to the close of the chapter).

This is the very work which the Lord designs that the message He has given His servant shall perform in the heart and mind of every human agent. It is the perpetual life of the church to love God supremely and to love others as they love themselves."

So what are some of the things we can learn from this inspired passage?

First, the Lord sent us this message and He sent it "in His great mercy" because we desperately needed it both then and now.

"most precious message" suggests it was the most precious gift He could send us, having already sent His Son to redeem us, "this message points us back to God's agape love and Christ's infinite sacrifice on the cross: "to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour".

This message was sent to "His people", His last day church both then and now. Why? Because in our Laodicean condition, we need it! We think we are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing spiritually. (Revelation 3:17) The truth is that we need Christ, our Saviour. We need His faith and His righteousness to take us through the times ahead!

We are told this message presents "justification through faith in the Surety". This genuine faith is the faith of Jesus and it's His gift to us—we are all given the "measure of faith." (Romans 12:3). It is what we need and when exercised, we receive the "priceless gift of His own righteousness". Righteousness by faith, Christ our righteousness—the core of this most precious message!

Sanctification—Christ as our High Priest, is "pleading for the church in the heavenly courts above". This is also a key aspect of this message as our Saviour cleanses His people and "dispenses the priceless (new) covenant blessings" as hearts are changed and the law is written on the heart. Having been justified by faith and received the gift of Christ's righteousness, both of which are an ongoing experience, we are no longer motivated by fear of punishment or hope of reward. In response to His love and His gifts, our desire is "to love God supremely and to love others as we love ourselves."

We are told "This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice." First, note that God did not suggest but commanded, that we His people give this message to the world suggesting that this is indeed the everlasting gospel and the third angel's message that we and the world need to hear!

Knowing that this was indeed a message sent by God to us, His people, it is important to understand how both the message and the messengers were received at the 1888 conference in Minneapolis. Ellen White's comments and remarks provide an inspired guide as we look back at our history.

Her comments on the messengers, Jones and Waggoner, were supportive and positive with no criticism of any kind. They were challenged to debate on the two covenants but declined. God had sent them to share this most precious message. She described them as "Christians" and "Gentlemen". An example would be the following quote:

"Doctor Waggoner has spoken to us in a straight-forward manner…. Of one thing I am certain, as Christians you have no right to entertain feelings of enmity, unkindness, and prejudice toward Dr. Waggoner, who has presented his view in a plain, straight-forward manner, as a Christian should." (Ms. 15, 1888; Olson, p. 294).

Here is another quote relating to A.T. Jones:

"It is evident that he walks with God, that he has been with Jesus and learned of Him.  He has brought truth into the inner sanctuary of the soul; it is to him a living reality, and he presents the truth in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. The people hear the joyful sound. God speaks to their hearts through the man consecrated to His service…. He becomes really eloquent. He is earnest and sincere and is beloved by those for whom he labors… His defects will be forgiven and forgotten. His hearers will not become weary or disgusted, but will thank God for the message of grace sent them through His servant."("Christian Education", 1893;RHApril 18, 1893).

What did Ellen White think of the message itself that Jones and Waggoner were presenting in 1888? Here is but one example:

"I have had the question asked, what do you think of this light which these men are presenting? Why, I have been presenting it to you for the last forty-five years, --- the matchless charms of Christ. This is what I have been trying to present before your minds. When Brother Waggoner brought out these ideas at Minneapolis, it was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard, excepting the conversations between myself and my husband. I have said to myself, it is because God has presented it to me in vision that I see it so clearly, and they cannot see it because they have not had it presented to them as I have, and when another presented it, every fiber of my heart said amen. (Ms. 5, 1889).

However, the response of the brethren to this wonderful message at the 1888 conference was in total contrast to the message and the messengers. While at the 1888 conference in response to her prayers she had a night vision and was visited by a messenger from God who conducted her to the homes where the brethren were lodging and she heard the criticism of her but "they thought and said worse things of Brethren Jones and Waggoner". The messenger plainly told Ellen White: "Satan has blinded their eyes and perverted their judgment; and unless every soul shall repent of this their sin, this unsanctified independence that is doing insult to the Spirit of God, they will walk in darkness… They would not that God would manifest His Spirit and His power; for they have a spirit of mockery and disgust at My word." As a result, "not one of the company who cherished the spirit manifested at that meeting would again have clear light to discern the preciousness of the truth sent them from heaven until they humbled their pride and confessed." (1888 materials, p.309-311,316,317.1067,1068).

Looking back at the 1888 conference, Ellen White wrote the following: "I can never forget the experience which we had in Minneapolis, or the things which were then revealed to me in regard to the spirit that controlled men, the words spoken, the actions done in obedience to the powers of evil…. They were moved at the meeting by another spirit, and they knew not that God had sent these young men…. To bear a special message to them which they treated with ridicule and contempt, not realizing that the heavenly intelligences were looking upon them… I know that at that time the Spirit of God was insulted." (lt. 24, 1892).

When this message was resisted by the Church leaders, Ellen White went with Jones and Waggoner to take this message directly to the people:

1888 Materials p. 545

"I have travelled from place to place attending meetings where the message of the righteousness of Christ was preached. I considered it a privilege to stand by the side of my brethren and give my testimony with the message for the time and I saw that the power of God attended the message wherever it was spoken.

Suppose that you blot out the testimony that has been going during these last two years proclaiming the righteousness of Christ, who can you point to as bringing out special light for the people? This message as it has been presented should go to every church that claims to believe the truth and bring our people up to a higher stand point.

Based on this testimony, we can see that every church today that claims to believe the truth should be presenting this message. After all, as we have already seen, it is the Third Angel's message and the everlasting gospel that we are to share with the world.

Having looked back at 1888 and the reaction to God's message and His messengers, then the obvious question is — Is this message still relevant to us today? Ellen White counsels us here as well:

"The Lord has raised up Brother Jones and Brother Waggoner to proclaim a message to the world to prepare a people to stand in the day of God." (1888 Materials, pg. 1814). We believe Jesus is coming soon, and she tells us here that we need this message to prepare us, God's people, for the trials and tribulations ahead, so we may stand for Christ as part of the 144,000 that will follow the Lamb wherever He goes, keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus.

Our Sabbath school lesson this week looks at several of our fundamental doctrines as a basis for our faith and unity. Our doctrines are, of course, important but only in light of the cross. This most precious message leads us to focus only on Christ—His infinite agape love, His immeasurable sacrifice on the cross, what He has already done for the entire human race.  Then the faith of Jesus, which is His gift to us, becomes real in our lives, hearts are changed, and Christ's righteousness, also through the power of the Holy Spirit governs our thoughts and our lives. Obedience to the commandments and following our doctrines is then a fruit of His faith and His righteousness in our lives.

This most precious message was always intended to bring unity to God's last day church as it is indeed the everlasting gospel intended for the world.

Blessings, John and Monica Campbell