Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sabbath School Insights No. 3, Qtr 1-07

Special Insights No. 3

First Quarter 2007 Adult Sabbath School Lessons


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

“All That My Eyes Desired”


[A note to the reader: We attempt to keep the length of “Insights” to no more than two pages, however this week we are sharing the full text of Pastor Penno’s essay. We hope it will benefit your study.]


The people of God in Solomon’s day enjoyed peace, security, and prosperity unparalleled in all their history. The king did not have to worry about fending off enemies because his borders had been expanded and secured by his father King David. Israel was at its height of glory. God had given wisdom to Solomon. The nations came to his doorstep to take in his seminars on botany, meterology, zoology, physiology, psychology, etc. They paid good money and honorariums. Thus Solomon’s kingdom was renowned for wisdom and wealth.

But this gift of God was squandered by Solomon through taking his eyes off of the One who gave him wisdom and turning to hedonism, materialism, and sex. In others words, he lost his first love of God who is agape. He became a weak, puny man because he was ruled by his passions and pride and so-called wisdom. God would have used him to proclaim His glory throughout the whole world, but he turned inward to himself. For years and years Solomon was oblivious to his vain journey inward.

In many respects, his life runs parallel to that of the Laodicean church of whom her Lord says, “thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art [the outstanding one who is] wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). Jesus says this of a people who have been blessed beyond measure with wisdom and spiritual wealth, but who have failed to recognize the day of their visitation and thus become proud and vain. They do not recognize they are sinners and in need of a healing High Priest in the most holy place. It is their unknown sin which only Jesus can remedy in the final Day of Atonement. They are outstanding above all the other six churches with regard to their wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked condition.

Solomon had a lot to say about fools, but he never called himself a fool. But if a person is so wise, why doesn’t he recognize his own foolishness? Because “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 19:9). Only God can know it. And the Heavenly Psychiatrist ministering His blood in the final blotting out of sins seeks to reveal to His people their deeply buried antagonism toward Him and His message of love. He is seeking to get their attention so they can know their heart enmity and confess it knowingly to Him so that they might experience the healing power of His gospel.

The wisdom of Laodicea came from God in opening up the landmark truths during the 1844 era. They included the third angel’s message, the ark of God in the heavenly temple shedding light on the Ten Commandments and the fourth—the seventh day Sabbath. The non-immortality of the soul and life only in Christ was coupled with the hope of a soon coming Deliverer. This message has been going forth to the world for over 120 years and is doing a marvelous work in baptizing thousands. But it will never finish His work.

The Lord promised a special message which would energize the third angel’s message and was called the loud cry accompanied by the latter rain of the Holy Spirit—an addition to the third angel’s message. “Then I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message [Rev. 18:1]. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he descended, the earth was lightened with his glory. The light which attended this angel penetrated everywhere. ... The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel’s message as it swells to a loud cry. ... I saw a great light resting upon them, and they united to fearlessly proclaim the third angel’s message. ... This message seemed to be an addition to the third message, joining it ...” [1]

God fulfilled His promise and sent a “most precious message” and the beginnings of the latter rain at the Minneapolis General Conference of 1888. “The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. ... This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.” [2]

This wisdom God poured out upon His people through their High Priest in the most holy place—the Wisdom and Word of God. It included seven wonderful gospel truths of the 1888 message:

1. The Unconditional Love of God for Humanity. God did not recognize such value in us that he came to seek and to save that which was lost. His agape dared to step down lower and lower, even the death of the cross, in order to rescue His enemies and carry them home on His shoulders (Luke 19:10; Rom. 5:10).

“The Spirit is constantly seeking to draw the attention of men to the great offering that was made on the cross of Calvary, to unfold to the world the love of God. ...” [3]

2. The Two Covenants. The new covenant is God’s one-way promise to forgive our sins and write His law in our hearts, and to give us everlasting salvation as a free gift “in Christ.” The old covenant is the vain promise of the people to obey, and “gives birth to bondage” (Gal. 4:24; Mark 14:29-31).

“The covenant and promise of God are one and the same.” “That which makes all the trouble is that even when men are willing to recognize the Lord at all they want to make bargains with Him. They want it to be an equal, ‘mutual’ affair—a transaction in which they can consider themselves on a par with God.” [4]

“The terms of the ‘old covenant’ were, obey and live. ... The ‘new covenant’ was established upon ‘better promises’—the promise of forgiveness of sins and of the grace of God to renew the heart and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law.” [5]

3. Temporary Justification, Forgiveness of Sins for Every One While There Is Life. Justification of life reverses the damage done by Adam’s inheritance of sin, condemnation, and death. “The judicial action, following upon the one offense, issued in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following upon so many misdeeds, issued in a verdict of acquittal. ... It follows, then, that as the issue of one misdeed was condemnation for all men, so the issue of one just act is acquittal and life for all men” (Rom. 5:16, 18, NEB).

“‘By the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.’ There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death for every man. He has given Himself for all. Nay, He has given Himself to every man. The free gift has come upon all. The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception. If it came upon only those who have some special qualification, then it would not be a free gift.” [6]

4. The Humanity of Christ. [7] Christ took the sinful human nature of men/women after the fall of Adam that needed redeeming. That which is not assumed is not healed (Rom. 8:3, 4; 2 Cor. 5:21).

Christ took our weakness toward sin and faced all the temptations that are common to humanity (Heb. 4:15).

“‘He who was one with God has linked Himself with the children of men by ties that are never to be broken.’ Wherein did He link Himself with us?—In our flesh; in our nature.”  [8]

5. Heart-Appreciation. If you have a heart-appreciation for what Jesus accomplished on His cross for you in dying your second death, then it is easy to be saved and hard to be lost. This is an everlasting covenant perspective of overcoming sin (Matt. 11:28; 2 Cor. 5:14; Rom. 2:4).

“Yet do not therefore conclude that the upward path is the hard and the downward road is the easy way. All along the road that leads to death there are pains and penalties, there are sorrows and disappointments, there are warnings not to go on. God's love [agape] has made it hard for the heedless and headstrong to destroy themselves. ... And all the way up the steep road leading to eternal life are well-springs of joy to refresh the weary.”  [9]

6. Justification by Faith and the Cleansing of the Sanctuary. For 1800 years until 1844 Jesus was engaged as High Priest in a first apartment ministry of forgiveness of sins and preparing a people to die and come up in the resurrection. Since 1844 our High Priest is in the second phase of ministry cleansing the sanctuary of sin beginning with cleansing the known and unknown sins of His people individually and corporately (Acts 3:19). This prepares them for translation at His second coming.

This experience of justification by faith is a fulfillment of the everlasting covenant and is the third angel’s message in verity which prepares a bride to be translated and enter the wedding with her groom—Jesus (Rev. 19:7).

7. The 1888 Message Helps Us to Glory in the Cross (1 Cor. 1:18; 2:2). “[Christ] took in His grasp the world over which Satan claimed to preside as his lawful territory, and by His wonderful work in giving His life, He restored the whole race of men to favor with God.” [10]

God drew Solomon out of his long life of dissipation and self-absorption to repentance. He finally hobbled with his cane back into the congregation at the end of his life. May Christ grant to Laodicea repentance. She needs to make herself ready (Rev. 19:7). Finally, her concern is for the Bridegroom.

Paul Penno


[1] Ellen G. White, Early Writings, pp. 277, 278.

[2] Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 91, 92.

[3] Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 52.

[4] E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, p. 71.

[5] Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.

[6] Waggoner on Romans, pp. 101, 102; 1896.

[7] “The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God.” Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 244.

[8] A. T. Jones, General Conference Bulletin, 1895, pp. 381, 382.

[9] Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 139, 140.

[10] Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 243.


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