Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 8, Qtr 4-05

Special Insights No. 8

Fourth Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Ephesians: The Gospel of Relationships”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“Unity Amid Diversity”


Think of a wheel. Now this wheel has a hub, a rim, and spokes going between. The outer edges of the rim are where we are before God begins His work in us. When we say “yes” to Christ, He begins to take us on a journey. From the position on the outer edge of the rim where we are running around all over the place, with our own personalities and agendas, Christ begins to harness all this energy and puts us on one of the spokes. Now we are all on different spokes, in different places on this wheel—still with our different, individual personalities, but now in the harness and on a specific path determined by Him.


Jesus does not leave us at the outer edge of the spokes, He begins to move us toward the center—each of us still on different spokes with our different personalities. But, look! As we move closer to the hub, we become closer to each other on our different pathways—still with our different personalities, but now closer. Not only do we move closer to each other as we move toward the hub along these different spokes, but we move closer to Jesus, because He is the Hub. If we let Him, He will complete the process and bring us all to Him in the center. He then has completed His work in our hearts and we now we completely reflect His character, for He has fully reproduced His character in us—while still, all along the path, maintaining our individual personalities.


It is this journey that I want to discuss today. How does it take place and what is our part in the process?


E..J. Waggoner in his book on Romans, pp. 126, 127, makes the following statement:


“Getting into Christ is only the beginning, not the end, of Christian Life. It is the entrance to the school where we are to learn of Him. He takes the ungodly man with all his evil habits and forgives all his sins, so that he is counted as though he never sinned. Then He continues to give him His own life, by which he may overcome his evil habits.


“Association with Christ will more and more reveal to us our failings, just as association with a learned man will make us conscious of our ignorance. As a faithful witness, He tells of our failings. But this is not to condemn us. We receive sympathy, not condemnation, from Him. It is this sympathy that gives courage, and enables us to overcome.


“When the Lord points out a defect in our characters, it is the same as saying to us, ‘There is something that you are in need of, and I have it for you.’ When we learn to look at reproof in this way we shall rejoice in it instead of being discouraged.”


The other 1888 “messenger,” A. T. Jones, follows up in the 1893 General Conference Bulletin, p 404:


“When sin is pointed out to you, say, ‘I would rather have Christ than that.’ And let it go. [Congregation: ‘Amen.’] Then where is the opportunity for any of us to get discouraged over our sins? Now some of the brethren have done that very thing. They came here free; but the Spirit of god brought up something they never saw before, went deeper than ever before, and revealed things they never saw before. And then, instead of thanking the Lord and letting the whole wicked business go, and thanking the Lord that they had ever so much more of Him than before, they began to get discouraged.


“If the Lord has brought up sins to us that we never thought of before, that only shows that He is going down to the depths, and He will reach the bottom at last. And when He finds the last thing that is unclean, out of harmony with His will, and shows that to us, and we say, ‘I would rather have the Lord than that’—then the work is complete, and the seal of the living God can be fixed upon that character.


“Which would you rather have, the completeness, the perfect fullness of Jesus Christ, or have less than that with some of your sins covered up that you never knew of? So He has to dig down to the deep places we never dreamed of, because we cannot understand our hearts.


“Let Him go on; let Him keep on His searching work.”


Ezekiel has some things to say about unity and what is required to obtain it:


“Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore..... My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (37:19-24, 27, 28).


Yes! Let Him do it! Let Him go on. Ask Him to show us our worst case. Let us keep our eyes on the divine Hub, for He will take us all the way into the Kingdom. And when we get there, we still will be able to recognize each other, because the Lord will keep our individualities intact.


Craig Barnes


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