Special Insights No. 11
Third Quarter 2005
The Spiritual Life
(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)
Lord of Our Worship
Worship and the 1888 Message
One of the privileges of being a Seventh-day Adventist is the opportunity to engage prophetic events through the lens of history. President Harry Truman once said the only new thing in the world is the history you dont know. Sadly, too many of us seem unable to grasp the depth and gravity of just why God willed this Movement into existence.
Just a brief review: At the conclusion of the 2300 year prophecy in 1844, we find our heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, entering into His final phase of cleansing in the
German theologian Frederic Schleimacher becomes the modern father of historical criticism, which interfaces well with the accomplishments of man. Because there is an axiom from the early church fathers, As man believes, so a man worships, societys celebration of mans accomplishments began to affect the churchs worship through a growing revivalism which tended to downplay heart repentance and reformation.
Into this vacuum steps the message of Adventism that directs mans attention away from himself to his High Priest in heaven. However, theres a problem, a major one! There was prophecy that directed us to Christs heavenly ministry, but was there to be more light that would enable Gods people to enter into the spiritual maturity needed for the final cooperation with Christ in His final work of cleansing? This maturity, I believe, must find its center in heart-felt worship, first individually, and second corporately.
While there wasnt another timeline prophecy to follow, God didnt leave His people languishing. In probably the most well-known quote of the 1888 era, Ellen While makes it clear that God sent through brothers Jones and Waggoner a most precious message (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 91). This was clearly not a dusted-off version of the evangelical teaching of justification by faith. This message provided deeper insights into the extent to which God went to save the human race. Martin Luther wasnt privileged to understand the depth of the message and neither were the great Puritan theologians. Even John Wesleys understanding of justification by faith had a tendency to keep its adherents in the
According to Ellen White, this most precious message clears away any misunderstanding as to the distinctiveness of the message by stating that the 1888 message is justification by faith.... its fruit is unto holiness (Review and Herald, Sept. 3, 1889, emphasis mine). Because it is a message delivered to Gods people that is MOST precious while Jesus is in the MOST holy place, it behooves the careful student to see the correlation between the message and Jesus presence in His final phase. Fruit is unto holiness is a profoundly simple promise of obedience, which is the essence of worship.
Thinking of worship as obedience by faith to the truth of the gospel enables one to experience worship personally and corporately in methods and ways that honor the presence of Jesus in the
Unfortunately, the rigid legalism of 19th century Adventism began to give way in the 20th century to the gospel understanding of those who only knew Christ in the
Satan knows that if he can suppress the 1888 message and keep it as a historical relic to be observed and not embraced with the heart, then he can continue to nudge the church toward a worship that will so redefine God that it will make Him as irrelevant as He became in the days of Elijah. Moreover, he knows that through generating man-centered worship he can keep our eyes off the ministry of Christ in the
Let us therefore remember that it does matter what methods we choose to worship our Lord in the
Surely in this time of unprecedented national tragedy, it is high time that an increasingly elevated view of God be revealed in our lives and worship. On the great typical Day of Atonement it was a time of sobriety and vigilance as Gods people followed the human High Priest in His work. Dare we do less as we follow the Divine/human High Priest in His final work? The 1888 message believed in the heart is the key to that maturing cooperation.
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