Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 1, Qtr 2-06

Special Insights No. 1

Second Quarter Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Holy Spirit”

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

“The Personality and Divinity of the Holy Spirit”



Our Lesson is much needed when there is so much being published that denies the personality of the Holy Spirit! Confusion has entered when so many advocate a view seriously tainted by the Arian idea that the Holy Spirit is not the Third Person of the Godhead, but rather is an “it” or “influence” devoid of personality. Paul begs us not to “grieve” the Holy Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30), and Stephen rebuked the Jewish leaders for always “resisting” the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51)—evidence that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not an impersonal influence. This second quarter’s set of lessons is needed!


Part of the problem which has confused many is the word “Trinity.” It comes as a shock to many that during her lifetime when Ellen G. White wrote some 25 million words, she never took her pen to write that word. Neither is the word in the Bible. Is there a reason hiding in the background for this strange omission?


Further, neither E. J. Waggoner nor A. T. Jones ever felt free to include the word in their sermons or their writings.


The Roman Catholic Church claims that “the doctrine of the Trinity” is the core doctrine of their church. When we as a denomination embrace “the doctrine of the Trinity,” are we somehow inviting confusion?


There is no question: the Bible teaches clearly that “the Lord our God is one LORD,” there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,” the “one baptism” being “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 12:3-13; Eph. 4:4-6; Matt. 28:19).


But the Roman Catholic “doctrine of the Trinity” is not that! There are serious differences between Roman Catholicism and the truth of the Bible regarding “the Godhead.” Neither Ellen G. White nor Jones and Waggoner should be blamed in the least for never speaking or writing the word “Trinity.” They had a very good reason. The true Holy Spirit was guiding them. The lesson is clear: we must be very careful how we speak or write.


Ellen White’s statement is clear as sunlight: “The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,.... invisible to mortal sight. The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested..... ‘the express image of His person.’.... The Comforter.... is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour” (Sunday’s Lesson, Evangelism, p. 614; emphasis ours).


The original author of these 13 Lessons is (or was) Dr. Arnold Wallenkampf, once a member of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference. He opposed many of his colleagues in the views he expressed publicly regarding what happened at the 1888 General Conference Session. He authored a book published 1988 by the Review and Herald entitled, What Every Adventist Should Know about 1888, an overview of events and issues that made the Minneapolis General Conference session so important in church history.


His chapter 6 is entitled, “The Holy Spirit Shamefully Treated.” He minces no words in telling the truth about the deep heart-enmity against Christ’s righteousness that prevailed there. For example, he lets Ellen White tell how she felt about the spirit at that Session, “The suspicion and jealousy, the evil surmisings, the resistance of the Spirit of God.... was appealing to them..... I stated that the course that had been pursued at Minneapolis was cruelty to the Spirit of God” (p. 37, from MS. 30, 1889). “The scenes which took place at this meeting made the God of heaven ashamed to call those who took part in them His brethren” (p. 39; from Letter May 31, 1896). Speaking of the leading delegates to the Session, she said, “The same spirit that actuated the rejecters of Christ, rankles in their hearts, and had they lived in the days of Christ, they would have acted toward Him in a manner similar to that of the godless and unbelieving Jews” (from the same letter to the General Conference President).


Dr. Wallenkampf’s chapter 7 is entitled, “Why This Betrayal and Crucifixion of Jesus?” He says, “It staggers one’s imagination that delegates to a Seventh-day Adventist General Conference session could treat the Holy Spirit shamefully, insult and injure Him, and even figuratively crucify Jesus in the person of the Holy Spirit. How is that possible?” (p. 43). Serious question!


A profound key statement is on Friday’s page of our Lesson: “The prince of the power of evil can only be held in check by the power of God in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit” (Evangelism, p. 617). “Held in check”!


Evil is running rampant in our world in 2006 A.D., directed by its “prince of evil.” Revelation 6:1-4 makes clear that the proclamation by the remnant church of the sealing message will make possible for the four angels to “hold, hold, hold, hold” “the four winds” of satanic fury until the sealing work can be finished. And “the Son of God gazed in pity on the remnant” and cries four times, “My blood,.... (cf. Early Writings, p. 38). The “sealing message” was presented in the 1888 message, but Ellen White declares that “we” have “in a great degree kept [it] away from the world” (Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 234, 235). This is why evil runs rampant almost everywhere!

Robert J. Wieland


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