Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 14, Qtr 3-06

Special Insights No. 14

Third Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Gospel, 1844, and Judgment”

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

“The Meaning of the Judgment Today”


Don’t throw away this Lesson book; it’s not out of date. Ask the Lord to imprint deeper in your heart truths you have begun to appreciate during these 14 lessons.


We began in July realizing they are hotly contested within the church. Several salient points need a final emphasis:


(1) Truth is more important than mere church consensus. “Buy the truth, and don’t ever sell it!” (says Proverbs 23:23). The Lord Jesus promises, “You will know the truth” (John 8:32; better than inheriting billions). And more, “The truth will make you free”—keep you and save you from stumbling, and from selling your precious “birthright” when the inevitable test of the “mark of the beast” comes.


(2) To put the issue in plain, awkward language: shall this church be the Seventh-day Adventist Church, or must it be changed (imperceptibly) into a Seventh Day Baptist Church (as Elder Luis R. Conradi wanted).


(3) What is a “Seventh Day Baptist”? A former Seventh-day Adventist from whom the 1844 cleansing of the sanctuary idea has been subtracted (the one truth that has made us the unique people that we are). Seventh Day Baptists are fine people, that’s not the issue; but generally speaking, confused, having lost the reason why we exist.


The basic problem: “What Is the Meaning of the Judgment Today?”


It’s not a fear-inducing divine order, “Get perfect or be lost!” This idea of divine imperiousness has discouraged youth and fueled this widespread confusion. God is not trying to filter people out of His kingdom; He’s making them ready to get in and live happily there forever after.


It’s simply letting the Holy Spirit do what He wants—forgive us all our sins and reconcile our alienated hearts to the One who is our Savior. It is not our job to make ourselves “perfect,” and it never has been. It’s the Savior’s! But it’s our job to stop hindering Him and let Him do it through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit who is continually dredging up buried sins we never dreamed were still inside. You can say “Yes! Thank You!” or you can say, “Go Away! Let me alone! I don’t want to overcome.” Thus the “Judgment” is ongoing, 24/7.


The ancient little “day of atonement” once a year taught precious good news: “On that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord” (including previously unknown ones, Lev 16:30). Who did the actual work? The priest—a symbol of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. The people cooperated with the priest. They kept the little day of atonement sacred. Thus we are to observe the great original Day of Atonement, which has been “now” ever since 1844, the end of the 2300 year prophecy.


Serious distortion of this good news has caused some to think this is “perfectionism,” which is a heresy. But add to that twisting of the truth the universal conviction of how imperfect we all are, and like cooking a terrible stew you come up with the idea of doleful SDA hermits only a step short of self-flagellation. Who wants such a sad life, is youths’ idea.


To correct this distortion and create the happiest Christ-like people ever on earth was God’s purpose in sending “us” the “most precious message” of 1888—the grand antitype of the kindergarten type that came every “tenth day of the seventh month.” That day ended with an entire nation walking on air! They were so happy once again to be at-one-with God and with one another. Day of Atonement “most precious” truth is powerful!


On that ancient one day quarrels were gone, alienations healed; husbands/wives recovered the love that once brought them together; the most alluring idolatry (it constantly ensnared them!) was abhorred because something better had been tasted on this great day—the gospel. It’s “Elijah’s” “turned hearts”! It was God’s plan that our “Day of Atonement” should end with the reception (not rejection!) of the “most precious” message of 1888, which should blossom and “lighten the earth with glory” in “rapid” “final movements,” now long overdue. A people wholly reconciled to God and to one another—that is “The Meaning of the Judgment Today.”


But it’s time for a paradigm shift in thinking: the issue is not egocentric fear for our own salvation (which largely pervaded this Quarter’s Lesson Book), but a new concern that Christ receive His reward—not that “we shall wear a crown in our Father’s house,” but that at last He receive His Bride.

Robert J. Wieland


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