Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 1, Qtr 3-05

Sabbath School �Insights� No. 1
Quarter 3, 2005, �The Spiritual Life�
Lesson 1, �Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ�
Prepared by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee

These Sabbath School INSIGHTS are not intended to be Lesson commentaries, nor intended to take the place of the General Conference-produced Study Guides for this Third Quarter. The Lesson topics for all thirteen weeks are serious, and the Bible portions to be studied are worthy of reverent and prayerful attention.

These INSIGHTS are unique in that they focus light on the lessons from the special message of Christ�s righteousness which the Lord sent to us in the 1888 era. They demonstrate that the �most precious message� which �the Lord in His great mercy sent� to us is indeed worthy of the name Ellen White gave it--�the third angel�s message in verity,� ultimate practical godliness.

Since the message was intended by its Divine Author to prepare that generation to meet the final issues of the mark of the beast, the seal of God, and the close of human probation, it is clear that it embraces the entire life of those who receive Jesus Christ as �their Lord and Savior.�

The contribution which the 1888 message makes to Lesson One is to see that making Jesus Christ our LORD is not only a duty imposed upon us (as we will often read in the Study Guides), but it�s far more than that--a joy, a commitment that is constrained upon us by the motivation of love (the agape of Christ). In other words, in this special Day of Atonement when the heavenly High Priest is closing His work as High Priest of our souls, Christ as our Lord is also our Friend.

To recognize Jesus as the LORD of our life is to surrender our will, our choices, to Him, and that�s what we Laodicean Christians squirm at. Yes, we�ll keep Saturday as our rest day, and we�ll pay tithe, and we�ll dedicate a year or so of our life to be a foreign missionary somewhere, and we�ll give offerings; and then, we having done our duty, He won�t mind if we spend all we have left of means or time in enjoying our wonderful economic heritage. We�ve done our duty, haven�t we? So, yes, we
recognize Jesus as not only our Savior, but as our LORD. Can we do better than that?

The 1888 Good News is Christ capturing our hearts as our Lord. He is nudging His disciples awake in �Gethsemane.� It�s the agape of Christ as a kind of love wholly different from what we think of as �love,� for it motivates those who believe in Him to a totally selfless life of service to Him as LORD. Neither fear nor hope of reward enters into the picture. It�s a measure of devotion to Christ that is parallel to the unique experience of living in the heavenly Day of Atonement, the time of the
final cleansing of the sanctuary. That�s not merely a theological quirk that our pioneers had for their day; it is vital truth in living for Christ as LORD in these last days. There are trials that will beset God�s people before the close of probation and the pouring out of the seven last plagues; we�d be foolish to dismiss their reality into an Adventist oblivion. Ellen White says it will not be possible for anyone to meet those final tests coming on the human race apart from this knowledge of
Christ as High Priest in His sanctuary ministry in the Most Holy Place. It�s in His work there that His Priestly ministry finally coincides totally with His LORDSHIP for those who believe in Him.

It becomes obvious that this is �Christian experience� that is unique. If our attention is fixed now on Christ as our LORD, this requires the revelation that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation define what �the time of the end� means (Dan. 12:4). The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been raised up by God to proclaim to the earth His final message of reconciliation, that is, of atonement. At last at the end of human history, a people is to be prepared who are truly at-one-with God, as close
in relationship to Christ as a bride is related to her bridegroom. It�s not a new works-program; it�s a new faith program. Christ�s role as LORD is actually welcomed as a bride welcomes her wedding day--not as our famous �Runaway-Bride� of recent notoriety. (The truth is that the church in her role as �Bride� has been on a runaway jaunt for over a century!)

Getting acquainted with Jesus as our LORD is a preparation for meeting Him when He returns the second time. It is thus a unique Adventist idea; all through history true Christians have recognized Christ as their Lord, but in this particular time of final Day of Atonement judgment, we are privileged to know Him as (1) our Savior, (2) our heart-cleansing High Priest, (3) our LORD of our obedience, (4) our Friend and (5) our Lover of the ages.

For the next 13 Sabbaths we shall explore our relationship with Him as subjects of His LORDship. They are precious weeks of time. It is not the Lord�s intention that they be weary weeks of boring study, but a fresh spiritual experience appropriate to the crisis of world life today. The servant of the Lord assures us that all Heaven is deeply concerned for the spiritual condition of the church of the Laodiceans today. Add to your Studies this new Quarter, this contribution of the 1888 message:
the unique Adventist idea of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is the grand truth that makes the Lordship of Christ become so totally received that His church will glorify Him as never before. The church will make possible His being crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. Forget about getting your own crown; pray to have a part in crowning Him.

Robert J. Wieland
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Thursday, June 23, 2005

His Seekers

“The early bird gets the worm,” says the refrain. It is a saying that is meant to teach us the value of early rising, hard word and diligence. But sometimes when we look around, we see late birds feasting on worms. Perhaps its then that we ask, “what’s the use of getting up early?” We wonder if the bird really gets the worms because he gets up early? I think it is a little more complex than that. I think that the bird gets the worm because he is searching for worms, and that he probably knows where to look to find them. This "searching and knowing where to look", is an important detail. Getting up early will not get us the worm unless we are looking for it in the right place.

All during the Sabbath, Jesus' body lay in the tomb -- resting. After the Sabbath had passed, the women decided to go to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. The book of Mark tells us the story.

Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary -- the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body.
Mark 16:2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise,
they were on their way to the tomb

Mark 16:3 and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from
the entrance of the tomb?"
Mark 16:4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
Mark 16:5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
Mark 16:6 "Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.
Mark 16:7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.' "
Mark 16:8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

The reason the women heard the news of Jesus' resurrection before others did, was not so much because they rose early. But because, as the angel said in verse 6, they were “looking for Jesus the Nazarene.” Unlike the disciples, who were hiding, fearing for their lives, the women were courageously venturing the early morning darkness to search for Jesus. Upon approaching the tomb, their love and courage were rewarded. They were the first to receive the news of Jesus resurrection, just as the shepherds in the field were the first to receive the heavenly announcement of Jesus’ birth.

Mark 16 continues, and in verse 9 we read --

Mark 16:9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had driven seven demons.
Mark 16:10 She went and told those who had been with Him and who were
mourning and weeping.

Mark 16:11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen
Him, they did not believe it.

Mark 16:12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country.
Mark 16:13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Not only were the disciples afraid, but also in their fear they stopped seeking Jesus, and they disbelieved the reports of the others. Jesus rebuked them for this behavior. According to Romans 10:16 and 17, “... who hath believed our report" and …faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The 6th Volume of the SDA Bible Commentary says of these verses, that based on the original Greek, a better translation would be “Who has believed what he has heard from us?" For faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the power of Christ, through His messengers. The disciples refused to hear the message concerning Christ. Perhaps their minds and hearts were more focused on their grief and pain. However, their refusal to hear, (which is the real definition of obedience) caused their disbelief to grow stronger -- so much so, that when Christ finally appeared to them, He rebuked their (collective) attitude.

How about us, where is our attention focused? Are we seeking Jesus? Have we heard the message Jesus has for us? "Which one you say?" Well, you know, the one about His nature being bent towards Sin, but that He neither missed the mark nor transgressed the Law. Say now, what about His justifying all human beings -- have you heard that message? I'm sure you must have. But in case you didn't, its part of the one above which says with a loud cry, that Christ justified the human race through His sacrifice as the second Adam, and that therefore He did not just save believers on His cross, but the whole world!. "What?" you say, "the Second Adam -- saved the whole world...??" Well, yes, haven't you heard that as our second Adam, Christ rewrote our human history? So now, instead of our descending from Adam the first (who represents the law of sin), we descend from Christ (the second Adam, who represents the law of heaven -- self-sacrificing love)? Haven't you heard this?

My, my -- well, in other words, Christ our Sin Bearer took our Sin, and us upon Himself. And, as our Second Adam, when He died, we died, and when He was resurrected, we were resurrected and reconciled. He gave us His Righteousness for the Sin Adam bequeathed us. And naturally, all of this becomes effective individually, as we receive the gift of His righteousness (which is personal or subjective justification). So the question remains, "Are we paying attention -- are we hearing the Word? How else can we have the saving faith of Jesus if we aren't? How else can we have a 'faith that works by love, purifies the soul,'and produces works of Righteousness if we don't? Brothers and sisters, the righteousness is not ours, it is the Righteousness of Jesus. How can we learn to depend on Christ, allowing His Holy Spirit to renew our Hearts by cleansing from Sin, and giving us the gift of repentance, if we are not hearing? If anyone of us is not, then perhaps we should follow the women’s example -- and earnestly seek Him.

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 13, Qtr 2-05

<center><bold><fontfamily><param>Times</param>Special Insights No. 13


<bold>Second Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark”

(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)</bold>

<bold>Insights to Lesson 13: “Buried--But Risen!”</bold>


</center>We have just completed thirteen Lessons about the one Man of
all time who has been the most “despised and rejected by men, a man of
sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Thank God the story ends with
Lesson Thirteen, RESURRECTION!

In the two millennia since, countless numbers of God’s true people
have experienced the fellowship of His sufferings, and like John the
Baptist have ended their lives in being “despised and rejected by
men.” They were often burned at the stake, drowned in rivers, or
perished alone in dungeons. It was during the 1260 years of papal
oppression of “the little horn,” when “the saints [were] given into
his hand” (Dan. 7:21-25). They “tasted” what Christ endured on His
cross, and died without being vindicated. But they will share the
divine vindication of His resurrection! Every one who even today
suffers injustice may “rest” his/her case “in the Lord,” and receive
the comfort the Holy Spirit brings because of Christ’s resurrection.

Big learned books have been written for and against Christ’s death and
resurrection; the simple story as it has been told briefly by Mark
bears the same heavenly credentials as did Jesus Himself in the flesh.
Some believe; some don’t. I choose to believe.

The Lesson pauses to note that Jesus chose to appear first to the
woman. His Twelve disciples a few days earlier wanted to cast out with
scorn, Mary Magdalene (Matt. 26:8, 9; Mark 14:4, 5; John 12:4, 5;
Jesus literally saved her from being “disfellowshipped,” read the
context). On the resurrection morning she of all people was given an
apostleship to go and tell the Eleven what had happened! Ever since,
Jesus has been defending faithful followers who have been
disfellowshipped by successors of the Twelve. The story of the
resurrection has always been the story of the world and the church
being turned upside down. The Lesson urges us to overcome the constant
temptation to despise the humble and unlearned people (often women)
who appear among us to great disadvantage.

The Eleven were reticent to believe the truth that Jesus had risen.
“They believed them not” (Luke 24:11). Thomas fought the truth for
days. Almost endless controversies against truth have plagued even the
church for ages; let us learn the lesson that fighting truth is an
unhealthful way to live. It can easily be kept up a wee bit too long
at the cost of eternal salvation. Jesus impresses on us the lesson
that “Blessed [happy] are those who have not seen and yet have
believed” (John 20:29). Ellen White has frequently (over a hundred
times) said that handling the truth of “1888” has been to “us” what
the almost unbelievable truth of the Resurrection was to the Eleven;
and she opines that in some cases of our brethren’s unbelief, it was
lethal to their souls. [1]

Our Teachers’ Quarterly notes that Jesus appeared suddenly to
different ones after His resurrection. “It’s almost as if He were
saying ‘You never know where you’ll see Me next.’ And implied is the
notion, ‘I’ll never be far away.’” A precious thought!

We must note that God gave unbelievers and rejecters full liberty to
oppose the Resurrection. He did not strike Caiaphas and the others
with sudden bolts of lightning from heaven, but allowed them to live
and fight the truth. It’s almost as if all through history He
challenges His opposition and welcomes the controversy. But beware:
walk softly if you oppose the Holy Spirit; it’s terribly dangerous,
especially in this time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.
Light is shining today as never before.

How can we be sure that Jesus is risen from the dead? Is our own
emotional testimony sufficient, to sing that “He lives within my
heart”? As we near the end, the deception of a false and counterfeit
“holy spirit” will become ever more subtle. The Savior’s testimony to
the two on that walk to Emmaus is important: He gave them a Bible
study “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them
in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).
Don’t let movies and videos deprive you of first-hand Bible study.

Lastly, we would note briefly something the Quarterly seems not to
notice: the controversy over Mark 16:9-20. Some scholars declare
they’re not original with Mark because they are lacking in Codex
Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, the “uncial” [capital letter] ancient
manuscripts. Almost all the “cursive” [long-hand] manuscripts have
them--the Bibles of the humble, common people which were worn out in
devotional reading (that’s why they haven’t survived like the uncials,
which were so corrupt in text that people didn’t use them). You may
trust your Bibles that have that passage.

<flushright>--<italic>Robert J. Wieland


[1] Click on “reply” for a sample of these statements.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 12, Qtr 2-05

<center><bold>Special Insights No. 12


<bold>Second Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark”

(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)</bold>

<bold>Insights to Lesson 12: “Tried and Crucified”</bold>

</center>The emphasis for this week’s lesson is on the three closing
scenes of Christ’s life on earth: Jesus (1) before the Sanhedrin, (2)
before Pilate, and (3) on the cross.

The first part of this “Insight” is presented in outline form as we
trace the so-called court proceedings conducted by the highest
religious authority of Judea and by the government of Rome when Jesus
was arraigned and condemned.

Following the outline we will consider, in more detail, Christ and Him
crucified and its significance with regard to the end-time message of
justification by faith. Both church and state “trashed” liberty of
conscience in their treatment of Jesus, the author of this freedom.

I. Jesus is denounced by the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:55-65)

A. Arraignment before this august assembly.

1. Frantic efforts to indict Jesus on false charges.

a. Witnesses were assembled to bring several false testimonies
against Him.

b. Futile were the efforts to incriminate Jesus. The witness
program was in confusion because no testimony agreed with the others.

B. When asked about His divinity, under solemn oath, by the high
priest, Jesus affirmed it.

C. The sitting members of this sanctimonious Supreme Court agreed
that Jesus should be put to death as a blasphemer.<italic>

</italic> D. Jesus was blindfolded, spit upon, struck, and ridiculed
by those Supreme Court justices who put on a senseless circus-like
performance. Instead of affirming the principle of presumption of
innocence, as given in the Old Testament legal system, this principle
of heaven was denied. Christ was presumed guilty by an inquisitorial

E. Because that farce of a trial was conducted at night it was
illegal by Jewish law. So, Jesus had to be held over till morning to
make it “legal.” They did so by putting him in prison until daylight.
“The guards received him with blows” as they took Him off to the
guardhouse (Mark 14:65, RSV). The next morning they fulfilled Isaiah
53:8 in that “He was taken from prison” and formally, but
fraudulently, charged with crimes against the church and the state.

II. Under the influence of church leaders Jesus was put on trial a
second time by the state and sentenced to death by means of
crucifixion (Mark 15:1-25).

A. The conspiracy: the Sanhedrin placed Jesus in chains and brought
Him before Pilate.

B. Pilate became confused and asked Jesus if He is King of the Jews.
Jesus answered in the affirmative: “It is as you say” (Mark 15:2).

1. False charges by the Pharisees. They accused Jesus of many
crimes; Jesus made no reply.

2. It was Pilate’s custom to release one Jewish prisoner each year
at Passover.

3. The mob in that mass of confusion demanded two things: the
deliverance of a murderer and the death of Jesus.

4. Pilate ordered that Jesus be flogged.

5. Jesus is handed over to the Roman soldiers.

6. He is mocked, mistreated, and finally crucified.


<bold>Christ and Him Crucified

</bold></center>Our Lord quietly suffered and did not fight back, a
lesson that Mark’s readers would need to learn as they faced official
persecution. We, likewise, need to learn the same (1 Peter 2:21–24).

While we do not know the exact place where Jesus was crucified, it was
outside the city walls, the place of rejection. This also signified
that He died for the sins of the world (Heb. 13:11–13; John 11:48-52).
With this in mind, we proceed with Mark’s historical perspective of
Christ’s trial and execution. Along with the other Gospel writers,
Mark does not give us a description of crucifixion for this is not
necessary. The aim of those writers is not to arouse our pity, but to
assure our faith. Most of their readers had witnessed crucifixions, so
any details would have been unnecessary.

Crucifixion was such a detestable thing that it was not discussed in
decent society. It was one of the most horrible methods of execution
ever devised by man. (Read Psalm 22 for a description of some of the
mental agonies our Lord’s suffered as He was crucified.)

The condemned usually wore a placard that declared their offense.
Pilate wrote the one that Jesus may have worn. It was later hung above
Him on the cross. It read: “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the
Jews.” The Jewish leaders protested, but Pilate for once stood his
ground (John 19:19–22). That placard was written in three
languages—Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. It preached the universal gospel
of Christ and Him crucified. The King of Kings must die for His

Nature, likewise, proclaimed the gospel. The sun refused to shine.
This spoke of the darkness that engulfed the mind of Jesus. The
heaving earth and the rent rocks testified to the convulsions of agony
that ripped through His mind and heart--that we might be saved.

Not only was there darkness over the land and in the mind of Jesus.
There was a deeper spiritual darkness in the minds and hearts of the
people who crucified Him (2 Cor. 4:3–6; John 3:16–21; 12:35–41). They
did not know they had killed the Lord of glory, their Redeemer.

It was at noon when that miraculous darkness came over the land, and
all creation sympathized with the Creator as He suffered. This was not
some natural phenomenon, such as an eclipse. It would not be possible
to have an eclipse during full moon at Passover. By means of this
darkness, God was saying something to the people. For one thing, the
Jews would certainly think about the first Passover. The ninth plague
in Egypt was a three-day darkness, followed by the last plague, the
death of the firstborn (Ex. 10:22–11:9).

The darkness at Calvary was an announcement that God’s Beloved Son,
the Lamb of God, was giving His life for the sins of His people and
for those of the world. In His death we have life; in His darkness we
receive the rays of righteousness (2 Cor 4:6).


<bold>Let’s fast-forward 1857 years and beyond.

</bold></center>In words that we can not fully fathom, we are told
that if Jesus had been present at Minneapolis, in 1888, He would have
been treated “in a manner similar to that in which the Jews treated”
Him (<italic>The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials</italic>, p. 1479). How
can this be? First, Jesus comes to us in the proclamation of a
message--the gospel. If the gospel is rejected, so is Jesus. Second,
when God’s chosen messengers are mistreated, Jesus is abused and
crucified afresh. Why was and is this so?

The message of the cross searches our hearts and reproves our hidden
sins we love. Like Ahab, it is our tendency to throw blame on the
messenger for troubling us (1 Kings 18:17). When rebuked by God
through messages He sends us, let us not respond in retaliation as did
both religious and civil authorities to Jesus.

In rejecting God's chosen instruments, Christ is rejected and the
Spirit of God is insulted. Just as when the Sanhedrin rejected Christ
they rejected the Foundation of their faith, so likewise when
leadership in Minneapolis rejected the message of Jones and Waggoner,
they rejected Jesus, the Foundation of their Advent faith. How is it
with you and with me? How do we respond to God’s heaven sent messages

Not only did the Sanhedrin reject Christ themselves, but they took the
most unfair means to prejudice the people against Him, deceiving them
by false reports and gross misrepresentations. History shows that
these practices did not end then.

The message of Christ and Him crucified has always been unpopular to
the natural heart. For some it is mere folly, while for others it is a
stumbling stone. Nevertheless, we must “preach Christ crucified” even
though this may be “a stumbling block” to some and “foolishness” to
others. To those who respond to God’s call, Christ is “the power of
God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 1:23, 24).

Jesus went before both church and state where He was tried and
crucified. He went before His beloved church in Minneapolis where
again He was tried and crucified in the message and in the messengers
sent by heaven. Will this be repeated? “While it seems astonishing to
us that the Jews rejected Christ, we ourselves will act out the same
thing if we refuse the light for this time” (Manuscript Releases, vol.
3, p. 79).


<bold>So, what about you and me?

</bold></center>Will we put Jesus on trial and crucify Him afresh in
the end-time? or shall we fulfill His heart longing in that we will be
brought to the foot of the cross in heartfelt repentance for what we
do to Him? As we respond with sorrow and in faith to the pull of the
cross, believing that He forgives, we will be restored, renewed, and
strengthened to hear and to obey His voice.

At the ninth hour, Jesus expressed the agony of His soul when He cried
out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:33-34). When
the Father forsook Him there was such mental and emotional anguish
that it caused His heart to rupture. Our sins were the cause of this
excruciating experience. Both the Father and the Son suffered and sank
under the weight of our sin and guilt. These Heavenly Persons had
never been in a like circumstance ever before.

Back in the days of eternity they laid out a plan that would entail
untold sufferings within Themselves as they would risk everything in
order to save a race who would will to sin. They entered into a solemn
covenant to redeem us, no matter what it might cost Them, at some
future time. The time had been set by God in His atomic clock, and
“when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son . . .
to redeem those who were under the law . . .” (Gal. 4:4-5).

In our Redeemer’s saying on Calvary, “My God, My God, Why have You
forsaken Me?” we observe two things. The first is the faith of Jesus,
which spoke first and twice, “My God, My God.” Secondly, we notice
that Jesus also gave voice to His feelings when he cried with a loud
cry, “Why have You forsaken Me!?”

From these observations we learn that the faith of Jesus spoke first,
and it spoke twice, while His feelings spoke last and only once. Jesus
believed, not only in the absence of feelings but against them. This
is “the faith of Jesus.” This is the faith we are to “keep,”
especially in these last days. This is the “third angel’s message in
verity” (<italic>Advent Review and Sabbath Herald</italic>, April 1,
1890). This is our justification--by the faith of Jesus.

In his rebuke to Peter, Paul clearly joined justification with the
faith of Jesus: “a man is . . . justified . . . by the faith of Jesus
Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be
justified by the faith of Christ . . .” (Gal. 2:16, KJV).

Justification “by the faith of Jesus” is the message God would have
brought to “Loud Cry” proportions in fulfillment of Revelation 18:1
had it been accepted at Minneapolis. As far back as 1852, in reference
to the mighty power of the message of the coming Bridegroom in the
summer of 1844, Ellen White wrote concerning the multiplied power of
the latter rain: “I saw the latter rain was coming as the midnight
cry, and with ten times the power” (<italic>Spalding and Magan
Collection</italic>, p. 4).

Luther considered personal justification by faith “the article upon
which the church stands or falls.” Reformational Protestantism is
pictured in the book of Revelation as falling and in time will be
completely “fallen” (Rev. 14:8; 18:1). This must be consequential to
the fact that they have fallen away from the “article” of
justification by faith. We, at a personal level, must understand that
it is this “article” upon which we stand or fall also. Christ in the
“loud cry” message of justification by faith, in the end-time setting
of the cleansing of the sanctuary, will be renounced, resisted and
rejected as He was in person when He was “Tried and Crucified” by both
church and state, as recorded by Mark in this week’s lesson.

<flushright>--<italic>Gerald L. Finneman

</italic></flushright>[Note: Bible texts are from the NKJV unless
otherwise noted.]


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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 11, Qtr 2-05

Second Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark”

(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)</bold>

<bold>Insights to Lesson 11: “Betrayed and Arrested”</bold>

</center>Seldom does any Sabbath School class get through the entire
Lesson before the bell rings. It’s quite possible that time was up for
your lesson last Sabbath without your getting to the question that
disturbs us at the end of the Teacher’s Lesson Guide. It’s one that
stabs us rather rudely awake:

“As Seventh-day Adventists we have heard all our lives that Christ is
coming soon. But in more than 150 years of preaching of His soon
return, He is still not here. How can we account for the delay to a
nonbeliever? Does this discount our belief in any way? Explain.”

The problem is not so much with “a nonbeliever.” It’s that we as
“believers” are stumped on this one. In our class last Sabbath, a 92
year old church member frankly confessed that he has heard many
attempted answers but never one that clears it up. Are our “children”
going to ask the same question 50-100 years from now?

We also got hung up on the “this-generation-shall-not-pass” statement
(Mark 13:30). In view of those “150 years” that have “passed” since
“we” first told the world Jesus is coming “soon,” how do we understand
that one?

If we can’t come up with reasonable answers to questions like this, we
needn’t be surprised to see our young people drift away.

The only possible answer that makes sense is that Christ has wanted
all this while to return to get His people, but what He has wanted has
been denied to Him. His people have not been praying, <italic>“Thy
</italic>will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” They’ve been
praying, <italic>“Our</italic> will be done”! Life in this sinful
world has been too nice.

A husband may want to do something right but his wife can frustrate
him. As the church’s Bridegroom, Christ wanted to return the second
time within the lifetime of that identical “generation” that He
describes in Mark 13:30--the “generation” that recognized in the
heavens the “signs” of His coming (vss. 24-25). Yes, astonishing as it
may seem, Christ intended that some who saw the stars fall in 1833
should actually <italic>see</italic> Him come (cf.
<italic>Testimonies,</italic> vol. 1, pp. 131, 132; 1856). And the
Lord’s servant declared in 1893 that Jesus had intended to have come
already by that time (<italic>General Conference Bulletin,
</italic>1893,<italic> </italic>pp. 419, 420; Testimonies, vol. 9, p.
29). Getting ready for the coming of Jesus and preparing for “the
marriage of the Lamb” is one and the same thing, but “His wife has
[NOT] made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7, 8). She, not He, has delayed the
marriage and of course, His coming too. It’s that simple! She has
frustrated what He has wanted to do . . . for a long time.

<bold>And now our new Lesson.


Heaven is very much alert, and sees all this machination of unbelief
boiling beneath our surface. it frustrates the Lord Jesus. This week
let us study carefully Mark 14 and follow Jesus step by step as those
evil “machinations of unbelief” not only “boil beneath the surface”
among the Jews in Jerusalem but boil over in open hatred of the Lamb
of God:

<bold>*</bold> A disciple who had everybody fooled (except Jesus)
betrayed Him cruelly (Sunday’s Lesson).

<bold>*</bold> Dear lovable, loyal, hard-working, sincere Peter denied
Him shamefully--publicly (Tuesday’s). That hurt! Worse than the Roman
soldiers’ beating Him.

<bold>*</bold> The Son of God, “our” Guest on planet earth, the “Owner
of the vineyard,” is arrested and handcuffed like a common criminal
running from the police (Thursday’s).

This last week is insults and torture for Jesus. It’s no fun to face
and endure the open hostility of His own people. Is there a connection
with the question from last week’s Lesson? Repeatedly Ellen White
informs us that “our” resistance and rejection of “a most precious
message” sent from Heaven was “just like the Jews” in their resistance
and rejection of Jesus. [See note below.] A Bridegroom deeply
disappointed and frustrated. (What we don’t realize is how much He
loves His Bride-to-be, that “where [He is we] may be also,” John

<bold>But oh! The love that Jesus revealed during that last week!

</bold>The story of the Last Supper melts the hearts of even pagans.

The story of Gethsemane, rightly appreciated, melts the even harder
hearts of Laodicea. We learn to call the Father of Jesus our “Abba,
Father” (Rom. 8:15). Intimate, close, tender, never-failing. In
sympathy with Him!

Take that forward step in faith, and you will enjoy the peace of
reconciliation with Him forever after.

<flushright>—<italic>Robert J. Wieland</italic>


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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 9, Qtr 2-05

<center><bold>Special Insights No. 10


<bold>Second Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Jesus Through the Eyes of Mark”

(Produced by the editorial board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)</bold>

<bold>Insights to Lesson 10: “Predictions of the End”</bold>

</center>What happened to the great urgency and the breathless
anticipation surrounding the announcement of the soon coming of Christ
proclaimed by William Miller and his fellow advent preachers during
the Great Advent Awakening in the 1840s? Surprisingly, the Quarterly
did not touch upon the biblical evidence recorded in Mark 13, Matthew
24, Luke 21, Daniel 12, and Revelation 6 in the context of laying the
foundation for the powerful advent preaching of the 1840s.

Jesus describes in exact order two of the three events which were to
occur (Matt. 24:29): the great Lisbon earthquake on Nov. 1, 1755, the
blackened sun and blood-like moon on May 19, 1780, and the star shower
on Nov. 13, 1833. In conjunction with these three climactic events,
the papacy received its deadly wound marking the beginning of the
“time of the end” (1798) following “times, time, and half of time” or
1260 years as specified in Daniel 12 (cf. Dan. 7:25 and Rev. 13).

With this overwhelming biblical evidence of the fulfillment of the
signs preceding Christ’s advent, and the “time of the end” marked by
the papal deadly wound in 1798, followed by the star shower in 1833,
the momentum was unstoppable for the enthusiasm of the advent
proclamation. But the capstone event which provided the final impetus
for Miller’s preaching was the prediction of Josiah Litch that the
Turkish (Moslem) empire would subjugate itself to Europe on August 11,
1840. Litch based his prediction on the time prophecy recorded in
Revelation 9:15. He reasoned that the “the hour and day and month and
year” would be 391 years and 15 days based on the “day for year”
prophetic time principle. When the Turkish Empire surrendered
according to his predicted date of Aug. 11, 1840, the “day for year”
principle was confirmed and the momentum for Miller’s advent preaching
was like a freight train traveling at 100 mph.

Now Miller’s interpretation of the “2300 days” of Daniel 8:14 as 2300
years ending in 1843 or 1844 with the cleansing of the earth by fire
at the Second Coming began to gain credence. The advent preaching
received heaven’s endorsement with the fulfillment of the climactic
signs predicted by Jesus in their exact order in conjunction with
commencement of the “time of the end” and the subjugation of the
Turkish Empire.

Examine the events occurring between 1755 and 1840:

1. Great Lisbon Earthquake, Nov. 1, 1755

2. Sun darkened, May 19, 1780

3. Time of the End, 1798

4. N. American Star Shower, Nov. 13, 1833

5. Fall of Turkish Empire (day year principle confirmed), Aug. 11, 1840

6. Termination of the 2300 day prophecy 1844.

It may be of some interest to students of prophecy that the three woes
specified in Revelation 9-11 have significance for us today. Clearly
the first woe is connected with the fifth trumpet which concerns the
rise of Islam and Mohammed. If the second woe is connected with the
sixth trumpet, it too is associated with Islam (Rev. 11:14 says the
second woe is past). “[T]he third woe is coming quickly” may mean that
the Islamic fury toward the West presently occurring is now underway
in conjunction with seventh trumpet and the Second Coming.

Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the
world as a witness to all nations and then the end shall come.” There
is one date that should stand out for all Adventists and have equal or
greater significance than the dates identified above associated with
the Great Advent Awakening. In the Minneapolis General Conference of
1888 the recovery of the everlasting gospel and its preaching began
with two of heaven’s delegated messengers, A. T. Jones and E. J.
Waggoner. The message was intended to prepare a people for translation
rather than the resurrection. Heaven had ordained that message to go
worldwide, but the brakes were put on the momentum by the stubborn
resistance of certain leading men. In consequence of this rejection,
the beginning of the showers of the latter rain began to evaporate. It
was a message of Christ our righteousness and justification by faith.

“What is justification by faith? -- It is the work of God in laying
the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not
in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness,
they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When
they begin to praise and exalt God all the day long, then by beholding
they are becoming changed into the same image. What is regeneration?
-- It is revealing to man what is his own real nature, that in himself
he is worthless” (<italic>Special Testimonies for Ministers and
Workers</italic>, No. 9, p. 62).

The Quarterly states that “each day that goes by brings the Second
Coming one day closer.” It could well be that with the continuing
rejection of this “most precious message,” each day that goes by
actually delays the Second Coming further into the future. May it be
true that we as a church cooperate with heaven and allow Christ to
“finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because the Lord
will make a short work upon the earth” (Rom. 9:28).

<flushright>--<italic>John W. Peters



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