Thursday, January 03, 2008

An Overview of Discipleship

The purpose of these weekly INSIGHTS produced by members of the 1888 Message Study Committee is a special one: to inquire how the “most precious” message which “the Lord in His great mercy sent” us 120 years ago sheds light on our current lesson topics.

We read in Genesis 6:3 that the Lord decided to grant 120 years of probation to the people before the Flood of Noah; this New Year brings us to the same 120 year span since that “most precious message” was “sent” to us “in His great mercy” in 1888, yet was “in a great degree kept away” from our people and from the world.

This is not to say that there is a correlation in the time periods; we do not know. But we mention this fact only because we should feel deeply a concern for this lapse of a long time that this gift from heaven has been seriously neglected. God is infinite; but His patience is not infinite.

We all know that a “disciple” is someone who follows a teacher.

Therefore the ultimate lesson in “discipleship” is the one that the “144,000” teach us: these are they who “stand on the mount Zion, ... having the Father’s name written on their foreheads, ... and who follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 14:1, 4). “Mt. Zion” is the church, the same as the “remnant church” of 12:17. For “the Lamb “ to “stand on Mt. Zion” therefore is Christ and His people to be fully reconciled; the sacrifice of Christ will at last be fully vindicated in these people.

Through Christ’s ministry in the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, He ministers to His last-days people the “atonement” in this final time of the High Priestly ministry; every buried root of enmity against God or alienation from Him (see Rom. 8:7) will have been cleansed from their hearts; His people are at last “at one” with Him. This is the meaning of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, “Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”

The sanctuary in heaven cannot be “cleansed” until first of all the hearts of His people on earth are “cleansed.” Thus the story of the 144,000 is the story of final victory over sin—a victory accomplished only by faith, not by works.

And here is where the message of Christ’s righteousness comes into sharp focus: sanctification is accomplished in the hearts of believers by the ministry of truth. “Sanctify them [Thy people] through Thy Word; Thy word is truth,” Jesus Himself prayed (John 17:17, KJV). This is what the 144,000 have heartily submitted to. The slightest hint from the Holy Spirit that something in the life is in opposition to that “truth of God,” and the believer gladly gives it up. Like a healthy heart beating and pumping blood throughout the healthy body, so the Holy Spirit is working throughout the remnant church; God’s people waste no time or energy fighting the leading of the Holy Spirit. There is none of that “1888 spirit” that constantly opposes the leading of the Holy Spirit.

The 144,000 come to the place where it can be honestly said of them, “These are they who follow the crucified Christ [the Lamb] wherever He goes.”

Will it be this generation who open their hearts to this leading of the Holy Spirit?

One brief example must be mentioned: health reform is part of the message that the Lord sends in this great antitypical Day of Atonement. Slavery to appetite is part of an addiction that the 144,000 overcome as they follow the Lamb wherever He leads. Now in this “time of the end” (Dan. 12:4; 11:35) all such slaveries to worldly custom and to self are overcome. But it’s not you that do the “work”! The Lord leads you, and you follow Him; you have no righteousness of your own. You “let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5-8). There is no fanaticism; there is simple surrender of self to the Lord, “constrained” by His love (agape).

During these special three months of Sabbath School study, choose to let the Holy Spirit be your weekly Teacher. Stay close to the Bible—that’s where He will be teaching. Plead with the Lord to teach you balanced, solid truth. He will!

—Robert J. Wieland