Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 10, Qtr 3-05

Special Insights No. 10

Third Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Spiritual Life”

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

 “Lord of Our Labor”



The Bible teaches salvation by grace in opposition to legalistic concepts of salvation by works. We find this teaching expressed clearly in many passages. The clearest perhaps is in Ephesians chapter two.


“But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2: 4-9).


This concept is also clearly expressed in Romans 4:1-11, Philippians 3:7-9, Galatians 2:16, 3:9-24, 2 Timothy 1:8-9, and Titus 3:5-7. Indeed this struggle between legalistic concepts of salvation and the true plan of redemption began with the description of events in the book of Genesis and culminates in the struggle represented by the seal of God and the mark of the beast in the book of Revelation. When Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together and made a covering for their nakedness we caught the first glimpse of mankind attempting to solve the sin problem by their own works. And finally, the religious powers that be will legislate that all must worship God according to their ideas of what is fitting in an attempt to make things right in a world that has gone wrong. It will simply be the Garden of Eden all over again, all over the globe, with mankind trying to solve the sin problem by his own works. This struggle between two plans of redemption and two gospels is the major theme of the scriptures.


Perhaps more than any other book, James has been misused in an attempt to establish support for the false gospel, the concept of salvation in whole or in part by works. When the true gospel is clearly presented, someone will usually ask, “If a man have faith and have not works can faith save him”? That is the question which the apostle James never asked. But many think he asked it because it is the question which harmonizes with their concept of salvation. Nevertheless, it is a ridiculous question to the one who understands biblical faith.


The reason this misconception prevails, even among Bible believing Christians, is that many believe that everyone has faith, therefore the difference between the saved and the lost must be works. After all, even “the demons believe —and tremble” (James 2:19). And “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).


Contrary to this belief the Bible is very clear that everyone does not have faith. In Thessalonians the apostle Paul articulated his prayer request:


“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that he word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thess. 3:1-2).


“Not all have faith”! That comes as a surprise to those who misquote James as asking ,“If a man have faith and have not works can works save him?” And it is a foreign concept to those who quip, “Even the devils believe and tremble,” in order to prove that everyone has faith. But faith simply is not enough.


What did James really say and what was his point?


“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead?” (2:14-17).


Here we can see (if we are reading carefully) a very important word is left out when James is misquoted. He did not ask, “if a man have faith.” He asked, “if a man says he has faith.” A person may make many claims or announce the best of intentions. Yet his actions will always speak louder than his words. One may say to a brother or sister “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled.” In other words one may say, “I wish you well.” But if he did not give them what they needed, did he really wish them well? This is James’ point. The claim is a lie if the actions do not agree. Jesus referred to the same problem when He said, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mark 7:6).


E. J. Waggoner explained James comments as follows:


“But does not the apostle James say that faith alone cannot save a man, and that faith without works is dead? Let us look at his words a moment. Too many have with honest intent perverted them to a dead legalism. He does say that faith without works is dead.... For if faith without works is dead, the absence of works shows the absence of faith; for that which is dead has no existence. If a man has faith, works will necessarily appear, and the man will not boast of either one; for by faith boasting is excluded. Rom. 3:27. Boasting is done only by those who trust wholly in dead works, or whose profession of faith is a hollow mockery.


“Then how about James 2:14, which says: ‘What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?’ The answer necessarily implied is, of course, that it cannot. Why not?—Because he hasn’t it. What doth it profit if a man say he has faith, if by his wicked course he shows that he has none?” (Bible Echo, August 1, 1890, “Faith and Works,” p. 68).


And this thought agrees with the apostle Paul’s thought when asked for prayer to be delivered from “unreasonable and wicked men.” Who were those “wicked” men? They were some of those to whom Paul referred when he said, “All men have not faith.”

Kelvin (Mark) Duncan


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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 9, Qtr 3-05

Special Insights No. 9

Third Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Spiritual Life”

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

“Lord of Our Body Temples”



One of the earliest research studies performed was designed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and recorded in Daniel chapter one. Daniel and three other teenage youth were among some of the children of Israel who caught the eye of King Nebuchadnezzar. Young men “in whom there was no blemish,...... who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they could teach the language and the literature of the Chaldeans” (Dan. 1:4). The king decided to feed them the king’s delicacies and the king’s wine. But Daniel determined in his heart not to defile his body with the portion of the king’s delicacies nor with his wine and asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him and his three teenage friends to eat a vegetarian diet and drink water! The chief eunuch was concerned for his own life because he knew that a vegetarian diet and water would certainly be inadequate. He thought that the king in his displeasure might require his life if something happened to Daniel. Daniel began to set the parameters of the experiment. He decides that 10 days would be sufficient, and the outcome measure would be the appearance of their countenances compared to the countenances of those who ate the king’s “delicacies” (the royal food), and drank the king’s wine. “Now at the end of the days,...... the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. Then the king interviewed them, and among all none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah” (Dan. 1:18, 19). How is it possible for teenagers to submit their appetites and passions willingly to the control of the Holy Spirit?


The lesson this week is entitled “Lord of Our Body Temples.” The memory verse, 1 Cor. 6:19, 20, says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” It would be helpful to focus this insight on a question posed in the teachers’ section of the quarterly on p. 107: “What can we do to reclaim the gospel of good health from legalists and extremists? Make three specific suggestions.” I believe the answer is found in the “most precious message” the Lord gave this church in 1888. We will begin to answer the question with two texts, one from Sunday’s lesson, John 1:1-3. and one from Monday’s lesson, Gal. 4:4, 5. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). This tells us that in the beginning God the Son had all the glory of heaven and the homage of all the angels, and that He had a special intimate relationship with His Father. We can’t comprehend what life with the Father was like, but they agreed that when the fullness of the time had come God would “sen[d] forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law......” (Gal. 4:4, 5). Now He would be God with us. Ellen White in The Desire of Ages (DA), pp. 22, 23, says, “Jesus might have remained at the Father’s side. He might have retained the glory of heaven, and the homage of the angels. But He chose to give back the scepter into the Father’s hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that He might bring light to the benighted, and life to the perishing.” She goes on to say, “Nearly two thousand years ago, a voice of mysterious import was heard in heaven, from the throne of God, ‘Lo, I come.’” It was at this point that the Father and Son knew that their relationship would be changed forever. There is a love which is self-sacrificing, self-renouncing, a love “which seeketh not her own” and this is called agape. Again in DA Ellen White says, “The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought,...... It was a revelation of ‘the mystery which had been kept in silence through times eternal.’ Rom. 16:25. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne. So great was His love for the world that He covenanted to give His only begotten Son” (p. 22). “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” Commenting on Phil. 2:5-8 Ellen White says, “As the high priest laid aside his gorgeous pontifical robes, and officiated in the white linen dress of the common priest, so Christ took the form of a servant, and offered sacrifice, Himself the priest, Himself the victim” (ibid., p. 25).


With this background I would like to suggest three reasons why the gospel presented in 1888 prevents the Health Message from becoming legalism:


1. 2 Cor. 5:14 says that the “[agape] of Christ constrains us.” This is not based on legalism but on a heart appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ and the Father. We will with Frances Ridley Havergal say, “Take my will and make it thine it shall be no longer mine.” Agape is powerful enough to cause us to lay aside our selfish desires including those related to health reform and submit to God.


2. Health reform is part of the New Covenant. Paul says in Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The faith of Jesus enabled Him to deny Himself, submit His will to His Father and by faith do only those things which pleased the Father. The faith of Jesus makes a reality the promises of the New Covenant. “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts.” This faith is given to us and if we don’t resist, this New Covenant experience will be ours and that includes the experience of healthful living. Waggoner says in The Glad Tidings, p. 47, “It is not we that live, but Christ that lives in us, and uses His own faith to deliver us from the power of Satan. ‘What have we to do?’ Let Him live in us in His own way. ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ Phil. 2:5, KJV.”


3. This reason is the most important because it deals with motivation. A proper understanding of the gospel removes our selfish motivation to live 7 more years and instead to be concerned about the honor and vindication of God. How we treat our body temples has more to do with God’s glory than our own personal salvation. 1 Cor. 10:31 says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The memory text has the same idea. Jesus came to manifest the glory of the Father and now we have the same privilege. Daniel chapter 7, verse 10, tells us that 10,000 x 10,000 (100 million) at least are watching to see whether or not there is power in the blood. The universe is watching to see if self is cast out of the hearts and minds of His people. Eph 3:10 says, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” Our diet is not just so we can live another 7 years, but so we can participate in this final revelation of God’s character to the on-looking universe.


The 1888 message is a powerful answer to legalism. By the power of agape, we are motivated to live not only for ourselves but for Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. May God bless us as we seek to give Him glory in every area of our lives.

Lyndi Schwartz


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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 8, Qtr 3-05

Special Insights No. 8

Third Quarter 2005 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Spiritual Life”

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

“Lord of Our Resources”



The scriptures are clear and it becomes self-evident to the believer that every gift that man possesses whether it is health or wealth or home or property comes from the “Father of lights.” The Quarterly summarizes this truth in a nutshell: “The greatest gift of all was bestowed when God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. ‘He poured out all heaven to man in that one great gift. And then he completed the work by surrounding man with unlimited blessings, favor upon favor, gift upon gift, opening to our view all the treasures of the future world’” (Signs of the Times, August 17, 1891).


When the Christian recognizes that not only have they been surrounded by “unlimited blessings,” with “favor upon favor” and “gift upon gift,” but that all mankind also has been surrounded by these same unlimited blessings, favors, and gifts, it is then that believer begins to catch a glimpse of the indescribable gift of grace bestowed upon the world by virtue of the incarnation and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. This revelation compels him no longer to live for himself, but only for the one who died for him and rose again.


Favor Upon Favor

Perhaps it is well to rehearse one prime example each of the blessing, the favor, and the gift bestowed upon all. First, by virtue of “His wonderful work in giving His life, He restored the whole race of men to favor with God” (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 343), but it is “favor upon favor” which is heaped upon man.


God chose all mankind in His Son through the incarnation from the foundation of the world. God shows no partiality--all were chosen in Christ for salvation. “Favor upon favor” was heaped upon mankind by means of the mystery of Christ. The unveiling of this mystery reveals that all were “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). He was the firstborn, since it was in Christ that the image of God was restored in fallen man. God not only chose all and predestined all, but He elected all and adopted all in His Son for salvation. “Favor upon favor” was heaped upon the fallen race.


We are stewards not only of our time and possessions and monetary resources, but we are to be stewards of our greatest resource of all--the gospel of Jesus Christ. The privilege of being a steward means we cherish and propagate the resource, the mystery of the Christ. Paul does not refer to the good news as the “mystery of the gospel,” or the “mystery of Christ,” or the “mystery which was kept secret since the world began,” or the “mystery of God” by accident (see Eph. 3:3, 6:19; Col. 4:3; Rom. 16:25; Col. 2:2). It is a mystery that was revealed to Paul and it is a mystery that we are to plumb to the deepest depths and cherish in order that we might share the mystery with the world as good stewards of the gospel.


Unlimited Blessings

The unveiling of the mystery reveals that unlimited blessings surround all mankind. First and foremost among these blessings is that “God would justify the nations” (Gal. 3:8) by virtue of the faith of Jesus Christ. The blessing that has come upon all nations is the gift of an acquittal from the curse of the law. This blessing is also referred to as “justification of life”--probationary life concomitant with certain temporal benefits. It is the faith of Jesus that made this inexpressible blessing possible. So we read in Gal 3:8, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith [the faith of Jesus], preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, [saying], ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’” All nations would be blessed through the Seed that would come from Abraham’s loins, and that Seed is Christ. God foresaw that all nations would be justified by what the Seed would accomplish by His faith. As it is written: “The Just One shall live by His faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Heb.). We are justified by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we who have believed in Christ (see Gal. 2:16, KJV). Thus all nations have been blessed in Christ. Those who receive the blessing will reap manifold blessings.


Gift upon Gift

Finally we may proclaim without reservation that the gift of eternal life has been bestowed on the world through the gift of Christ. “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived” (The Desire of Ages, p. 530). He is the gift that God gave to the world and in that gift, in Him, is eternal life. The testimony that Christ is the divine Son of God who has been given to man has been witnessed to the world in three ways: by “the Spirit, the water, and the blood.” The unbeliever refuses to believe the testimony and makes God a “liar.” “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life [believer and unbeliever heard the testimony], and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:8-12).


Unlimited blessings, favor upon favor, gift upon gift--the truths embedded in these concepts were unveiled in clear and distinct tones by heaven’s delegated messengers in the years leading up to, during, and following the Minneapolis 1888 General Conference which led Ellen White to heap endorsement upon endorsement of the message borne during those years and following.


How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? This evidence should be sufficiently clear to all believers that we are to be good stewards of all our resources that come from the “Father of lights,” in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

--John W. Peters


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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 7, Qrtr. 3-05

Sabbath School Insights No. 7

Quarter 3, 2005, Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Spiritual Life”

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

“Lord of Our Relationships”



“Relationships” is a big word difficult to define. Just try to do it: “Relationships means having...... a...... hmm, well...... relation...... ” There you are—trying to define a word by using the word itself. That’s a no-no, circular reasoning. The dictionary says it means “the quality of being related.” Same thing. Then adds, “being connected by blood or marriage.”


Probably the best word is “fellowship.” We are either (a) united in a cold “live and let live” spirit, or (b) fighting in wars, (c) united in fellowship in the love of Christ (agape), or (d) we are alienated from each other in various ways. All four are “relationships,” good or bad.


If Christ is “the Lord of our relationships” it has to be in the Spirit of His love (agape). Imagine what the world would be like if Christ with His love had never entered among us humans. Of course, we know that the Holy Spirit has always been working since Eden, putting “enmity” between Satan and the human race (Gen. 3:15). But aside from His ministry, this world is a dark place to live in, with “relationships” cold or hostile.


The Bible explains how we humans who are all naturally devoid of this love can receive it, unworthy as we may be: (a) We come to the Lord confessing our nakedness of soul, the emptiness of our hearts; and (b) then “the love [agape] of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5, NKJV).


To borrow a crude illustration, the inflow of this “love” given through “the Holy Spirit” is like pouring oil into a car’s transmission which has been driven dry; the gears that mesh grate noisily and overheat because of the friction. But the oil erases the friction because it does not permit two metal parts to rub against each other—the oil separates them by its presence between them.


Voila! Now the transmission is peaceful and quiet, functioning properly.


Whatever may be the cause of the alienation that has isolated us humans from each other, the inflow of the love (agape) of Christ comes between us and friction is eliminated.


Now we “mesh” one with another like well-oiled gears in a transmission, with this “oil” of the love of Christ making it possible for us now to “transmit” the blessings of heaven to the needy people of the world (your transmission is what transmits the power of your engine to the wheels!). Think of our vehicle as the world’s only “ambulance.” That’s what Christ has called His church to be; Paul says that “the gospel of Christ” is the powerful “engine” of the vehicle (the church), “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).


Now the “transmission transmits” this pure, true, holy gospel to the world! All noisy, overheated controversy within the church is finished. [1] Thank God! (There was a time when that precious “oil” was lacking, and a voice of inspiration has declared that “opposition” to that pure, true gospel “succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them,” and “in a great degree kept [it] away from the world”! The author of those words was our own beloved Ellen G. White (Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235). Surely now, in this year of our Lord 2005 those “relationships” should be healed, so the unity Christ died to achieve may happen.


The Happiest (or Most Bitter) of All Our Human Relationships.


Our Lesson Book says it’s marriage. Probably Ellen White never wrote anything quite so profoundly beautiful as those words about married love, “the loom of heaven weaves with warp and woof finer, yet more firm, than can be woven in the looms of earth” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 362; the same author also said that “love is a precious gift which we receive from Jesus,” p. 358).


We may be surprised to learn that married love, yes, sexual love in marriage, is also agape where husbands are commanded to “love your wives” (cf. Eph. 5:25). [2] Such love is not the passing whims of lust. Even if a man says he has “fallen in love” because the object of his love is so attractive, the genuine article is “a gift from Jesus.” Such “love is strong as death,” “many waters cannot quench” it (S. S. 8:6, 7). If we “receive [it] from Jesus,” it must be one of the fruits that grow on the Tree of Life watered by the river of life that flows out “of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1), the crucified Christ. If in all honesty you know your heart is empty, don’t become bitter in despair. If we “receive [that love] from Jesus,” then He is in the business of giving it. That’s Good News!

Robert J. Wieland




[1] At last, the truth of the cleansing of the sanctuary comes into its own.

[2] We may wonder why wives are not commanded to “love” their husbands! This conjugal love is symbolic of the love of Christ for His church. It is He who woos her; she does not woo Him! The wife’s part is to respond to her husband wooing her. We are not commanded to “love” Christ; we are to believe, appreciate, His love for us—that is called faith (the kind that works by love, Gal. 5:6).


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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sabbath School Insights No. 6 Qtr 3-05

Sabbath School Insights No. 6

Quarter 3, 2005, Adult Sabbath School Lessons

"The Spiritual Life"

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

"Lord of Our Prayers"



For the past several years, the Nike corporation featured advertisements showing a simple picture of their shoe with the caption, “just do it.”  This admonition can also be applied to prayer. 


Human beings seem to require all sorts of impediments, conditions, and prerequisites to simply saying a prayer. Some children are instructed to kneel down, close their eyes and fold their hands. Others are taught they must use books or beads to remind them of the words of a prayer, or to make the sign of the cross, face towards Mecca, or use some other ritual to make their prayers effective. God asks only that our prayers be heartfelt and sincere, even though sometimes His answer is “no..


There is nothing wrong with assuming a reverent attitude when praying. Anything that focuses our attention is useful. The problem arises when we believe that without those props, God doesn’t listen to us. If we think that the rituals make us “good enough” for God to hear our prayer, we can take some responsibility for our own sanctification. Jesus taught, “Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God. (Mark 10:18). When we understand this, we must recognize that all our attempts to make ourselves good before coming to God in prayer are futile. We can simply trust that we are invited to “come boldly to the throne of grace.”


Christ, High Priest and Human Elder Brother

Our lesson this week emphasizes Christ’s intercessory role. Because He qualified to become our High Priest by coming in the likeness of sinful flesh, He is “touched with the feelings of our infirmities” and can, as our elder brother, knowledgeably intercede for us before a holy God. A wise writer described that Christ’s “humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. He found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. And if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer” (Steps to Christ, p. 94).


The biblical teachings regarding the nature Christ assumed when He came to this earth, and the doctrine of the cleansing of the sanctuary, help us understand the privilege of prayer. As we participate in the cleansing process typified by the Hebrew Day of Atonement, Christ reveals our hidden sin. Our prayers are to be part of a two-way conversation in which we allow God to speak to us through reading or hearing His word. As we are convicted of sin, we open our hearts in prayer to the searching of His Spirit. This process is as varied as the individual and requires no particular method or format.


Can God accept the prayer of someone who believes a ritual should accompany it? It depends on their motivation. Remember, prayer’s purpose is to change us, not God. By coming to earth “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” Christ knows what it’s like to function as a human being. Thus, He is able to intimately identify with our struggles, and can judge our motives. If He sees that the ritual we use to accompany our prayer is motivated by an intent to obligate God to hear us, we have reverted back to a works/slave mentality. Nothing we do obligates God to do anything. He has already done everything necessary for our salvation, and His own promises obligate Him. If the motivation behind our prayer ritual is to prepare ourselves to be in a proper attitude, Christ, our high priest and judge also reads those motives.


Praying for Forgiveness

We know that many times we will need to come before God asking for forgiveness for sin. We need only believe the promise that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9, KJV). Notice that He forgives us, not the sin. God’s holy, unchangeable law cannot allow Him to forgive sin by acting as if it hadn’t happened. His solution to the sin problem was to assume human nature, the nature that needed redeeming to the cross where He paid the penalty for our sin. “On Him was laid the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6), so the entire world stands within that verdict of acquittal.


Praying for Others

Failing to pray for others is called a sin. “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you......” (1 Sam. 12:23). How we pray for others requires some thought. Most of us feel sympathy for the patient in an ambulance that speeds by, sirens blaring. Suppose you believe you are being called to pray for that person. The first inclination might be, “God, please make that person accept You before they die.” No matter how sincere, God cannot honor the prayer to make someone accept Him. God never forces, He draws. By using the life-changing circumstances that almost always accompany a full-code ambulance trip, God is drawing, but not forcing, those involved to see their need of Him.


There is also a hidden danger in our motivation in praying for others. We may self-righteously think that the only person who needs to learn a lesson is our ambulance patient. What if the person God is trying to draw to Him by allowing that circumstance is you? My church is currently struggling to understand why one of our beloved elders suffered a serious stroke and has only limited speech. I don’t know why that happened, but if I think it is to teach him something, I miss the point. In such a tragedy, if God sees fit to let us become aware of the circumstance, we must first look for the lesson we are to learn. If someone is brought to accept Christ by watching our Elder’s persistent, Job-like faith, I believe when he learns that in heaven, he will throw down his crown at the feet of Jesus and give Him all the glory. It is by telling the message of the cross that the God-head will “draw all men.” When He allows us to suffer, we are participating with Christ.


Misunderstanding “Corporate” Confession

Another danger in praying for others is thinking that we can impose our will on another. The text says, “if we confess our sin.” If I don’t like something Suzie did to Joe, does it make sense for me to go to Joe and confess on her behalf without Suzie’s consent or even knowledge? To do so would cut off further discussion so that if Joe needed to talk things out, he would be seen as ungrateful for the “repentance.” Nothing would ever get solved.


Job did something that looks similar when he sacrificed for his children, “[for] it may be that my sons have sinned” (Job 1:5). I believe the example Job displayed was his acknowledgment that as a parent, his influence may not be perfect. But he cannot assume their guilt for the choices they made.


The concept of corporate repentance contained in the 1888 message is not that of assuming guilt. Rather, it contemplates a collective acknowledgment by current leadership that mistakes have been made by past leaders of an organization, and sincere efforts are made to not perpetuate the error, and if possible, repair the damage. Without the acknowledgment, which is equivalent to confession, there can be no repentance so the problem can be faced and fixed. If Abraham Lincoln believed that he wasn’t responsible for slavery because he wasn’t there during the framing of the Constitution, which didn’t prohibit it, our country would still be suffering from the cancer that eats away at a society where all are not free.



Many things can be said about prayer, but all the teaching can never provide the experience of just doing it. Ask God to send His Spirit to teach you. Prayer is the connecting link to the “golden chain” of the humanity Christ will retain for eternity. What a privilege!

--Arlene Hill


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