Friday, January 11, 2008

Discipleship: “Discipleship Then and Now”

Our Lesson 2 asks a pertinent question: “If someone were to come up to you (as these Greeks came to Philip [John 12:20-22], and say, ‘We wish to see Jesus,’), what would you answer?”

If you are like I am, you would be delighted for someone to ask you for literature or for Bible studies about the Sabbath or the other doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists. Delighted, because our experience is this: “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” and only few seem to desire to know the truths of the third angel’s message (cf. Matt. 7:13).

But in reality many don’t know how to ask for help, even though they desperately want it.

The Holy Spirit is alive and He is working! But we are not well aware of what’s happening. The Lord is closer to us than we think.

Here’s a promise to make all of us happy: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. [The “bread” symbolizes truth you are sharing with people]. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight [that is, be lavish in your generosity in scattering the message!]; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. ... Thou knowest not what is the way of the [Holy] Spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child [you don’t know how the Holy Spirit woos that heart to the Savior]: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (Eccl. 11:1-6).

That promise is sure and certain: some of the “missionary work” you do will bear fruit! If you persevere, more of course will, but there will be a de fault reward that cannot fail in the end.

Our joy in being “disciples” of Jesus is the thrill of doing as He does, and what He does is win souls. Nothing else but soul winning is worthy of our life-time and life-energy. Someone who builds a house takes great delight in living in it the rest of his life; winning souls to our Master is the “house” we devote our life to, and what a future to enjoy for eternity!

Our lesson includes two fascinating statements of Jesus, our “Master Teacher”: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:19). If it takes your whole lifetime to understand what Jesus is actually saying here, it will be worth while. It sounds like wild exaggeration—but it does sound like Jesus. “The keys of heaven”? Don’t say you can’t understand Him; the sky’s the limit in His promises to bless your soul-winning for Him! Hang on and let Him instruct you and bring it to pass.

The other fantastic promise Jesus gives us in this lesson is this: “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (18:18). Of course that is said to the church; but the Lord Jesus seems to be willing to abandon His throne for us to come sit in it in His place!

When you pray for a loved one or friend who, as we say, is “out of the ark of safety,” pray with that intensity of soul. You have been officially appointed of heaven to bring that person into the kingdom.

But of course, you are a “servant” of the Master; you submit to Him, you are His “disciple,” that is, you employ no arrogance, no force, only humility “in Christ.” Your prayer requires your 100 percent devotion to Jesus and His ways of doing things.

Note the section about the disciples at first not being totally 24/7 devoted to the work of Jesus (The Desire of Ages, pp. 246-249): can you imagine the time coming as we approach the final events when the earth will be lightened with the glory of the final message, when you will be drawn into 24/7 service for Jesus?

As you conclude your study of this lesson (Thursday), think how wonderful it will be when again “the Lord works with us” and “confirms His word by the signs that accompany it.” Note how that was precisely what the Lord wanted to do with us after the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference; He wanted that message to swell to lighten the earth with glory! He wanted to give the brethren and sisters in 1888 the gift of the Holy Spirit as He gave the gift to the apostles after Pentecost (see Selected Messages, Book One, pp. 234, 235).

But, there’s no need to waste time crying over spilt milk; let’s make wrongs right and let’s repent by the only sensible way: give the 1888 message both to the church and to the world—now.

That is what the manuscript “1888 Re-examined” pleaded in 1950 should be done.

That is what the 1888 Message Study Committee today pleads should be done—now, before any more decades have to go by.

—Robert J. Wieland


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