Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 12, Qtr 3-06

Special Insights No. 12

Third Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Gospel, 1844, and Judgment”

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

“The Pre-Advent Judgment”


Many think that the idea of a pre-Advent or “Investigative Judgment” is fear-inducing. Youth especially shy away from the teaching; this fear has shadowed the church for many decades.


But there’s something lacking if fear shadows our hearts as Seventh-day Adventists. Someone has been starving us of our God-given spiritual nutrition if fear dominates our thinking about a pre-Advent judgment, because John says that “perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment” (1 John 4:18). If the fear is still there, then a true understanding of the gospel is absent! It would be impossible for such fear to grip our youth in this 21st century if “we” had accepted “the most precious message” in the 1888 era and since. A special idea, agape (love), is the basic idea of the message, and it’s that agape that “casts out fear.”


The solution to the problem of fear in the pre-Advent judgment is revealing the true Christ who came “in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3). What is the liberating truth? It’s this: “We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15, 16).


What does it mean? All during the time of judgment when normally we think we must be frightened, He is giving us “mercy and ... grace to help”! If we understand this idea of the nearness of the Savior that came to us in the 1888 message, the result is that by faith we walk right through all the holy angels into the very presence of the Father without trembling! They stand back for us, for they are servants; we are family! We’ve been adopted (Eph. 1:6)!


The Good News of this nearness gets better all the time: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14, 15). It’s tragic if “all their lifetime” means ever since they were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church! (Incidentally, that word “destroyed” in the Greek is better rendered “paralyzed.”) Honestly, we can’t claim that Satan was “destroyed” when Jesus died on His cross; but for sure, he was paralyzed (the Greek verb means “annul”) for everyone who believes and appreciates what Christ accomplished—not just what He wanted to do. He IS the “Savior of the world,” not just wants to be (John 4:42)! But of course He can be rejected. We have freedom of choice. And if anybody is lost at last, that will be the reason.


Therefore, all during this time of the pre-Advent judgment (which began in 1844), our Great High Priest has been wanting and wanting to “seal” His people, trying to give them the special message through “Elijah” which “turns hearts” into at-one-ness both with God and with us as one another.


Our Lesson speaks of the “cleansing of the (heavenly) sanctuary.”

It’s very simple: the “books of record” will automatically be “cleansed” of all the sins of God’s people when their hearts are cleansed!


And their hearts will be cleansed when they see and appreciate what it cost the Son of God to die our second death on His cross. A distinct contribution of Seventh-day Adventists is the message of Christ dying the equivalent of our second death, the death in which He surrendered all hope of resurrection (cf. The Desire of Ages, p. 753); that is the true “wages of sin” (Rom. 6:23). No other Christian church grasps this! The people are good, and many are more faithful to the light they have than we are to the light we have—they just don’t see it. The power is in the reality of love which is agape—which can’t be grasped as long as natural immortality fills the mind and heart.


“The unparalleled love of Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, will bring conviction and conversion to the hardened heart” (Christ Our Righteousness, p. 61). Those “hardened hearts” are everywhere around the world, in all cultures, yes, in all churches. Secular people living in this century need the same message that the Lord sent to the pagans in the first century—“Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1, 2). That proclamation will challenge the thinking of modern man and penetrate the defenses in which he has encased his worldly heart.


It will be a long-awaited union of hearts—Christ and His people—His church. The union will be as close as that of a bride with her husband (Rev. 19:7, 8). We can never equal or duplicate the sacrifice of Christ, but we can appreciate it. The pre-Advent judgment that so terrifies many becomes like the joy of a wedding! “Let us be glad and rejoice” is the heart cry of those who open their hearts to the “most precious” message of much more abounding grace. It’s what the Holy Spirit has been seeking to impress on our hearts all these many, many decades!


But please remember, this is not “cheap grace.” Such more abounding grace motivates the believer to unending devotion, total obedience to God’s law (not from fear, but from joy), total heart-reconciliation with Him.


Let’s stop resisting His grace!

Robert J. Wieland


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