Thursday, February 14, 2008

Preparation for Discipleship

Our new Sabbath School Lesson asks a powerful question in the first paragraph: “What good does it do if the folks we baptize soon leave?” There is Reality!

The time has come for us as a world church to get over our “rich-and-increased-with goods” obsession with our supposed success in large baptisms; we need to ask that same simple question.

The word “soon” can be omitted: “What good does it do if the folks we baptize ever, ever eventually leave? Even in the final great test of the mark of the beast?”

We can rejoice in the reports we send to the conference office, but we must remember that “every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13).

We can re-word the question: “What good does it do if the folks we baptize become just more Laodicean lukewarm adherents? What progress have we made?”

Actually the issue is serious: we are either hastening the finishing of the gospel commission, or we are continuing our history of 120 years in postponing the glorious “marriage of the Lamb”(Rev. 19:7, 8). It was 120 years ago that the Lord Jesus wanted to propose to the corporate “woman” whom He loves, “Let’s get married!” All heaven had been waiting to rejoice because “the marriage of the Lamb is come, for His wife has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7). But no, not yet.

We as a world church are in fact writing a “book” about “discipleship.” The last chapter is about a “discipleship” so mature, so complete that it prepares the “disciples” around the world to be ready for the close of human probation, prepares them to stand during the pouring out of the seven last plagues, prepares them to face the final test of the close of probation. That will be ultimate “discipleship.”

The Lesson asks what is the point of Matthew 5:13-16 for us, about “let your light shine” etc.? I suggest it’s in the word “let.” The word means the Lord is ready to do something if we let Him do it. He can’t do it without our permission, or shall we say, our cooperation.

And here we come face to face with the reality of our church story. The “let your light shine” idea was “present truth” 120 years ago when the Lord was ready to shine “our” light upon a dark world, lighting the earth with the glory of that fourth angel of Revelation 18:1-4. (Remember, when Revelation speaks of angels with a message, it’s the people of God who actually give the message.)

But was that “light” ready for Heaven to magnify it, to shine it on a dark world at that time? The Lord’s servant said that we were as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. To bring healing and unity to the world church, “the Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 91), which was (and is) that message of 120 years ago. Every Sabbath School class and worship service in the 1888 era was “dry.” The Lord could never afford to magnify their light of that day on the world itself! But He was waiting to shine the “light” that came in 1888.

Let us note how this little verb “let” contains the gospel within it: the Lord is actively working, and awaits our “letting” Him do what He wants to do. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15); that “peace” will rule there if we don’t hinder it by our dark unbelief! “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (vs. 16). That means, let your Sabbath School Lesson find a dwelling place in your heart; look up each text, mark your Bible, cross-index it if you can. Oh how your Bible will become a new book to you! It will become personally related to you. (Cost money? Only the original purchase; and for sure a personal life-long Bible is worthy of its one-time cost.)

You will learn to love the Bible. You will take that one with you always to Sabbath School and the worship services. When you catch a ray of light, you’ll mark it in your Bible. This will be your experience of building your house “on a rock” that the descending rain and floods and blowing winds cannot move (cf. Matt. 7:15-20, Tuesday’s lesson).

In Wednesday’s lesson we are introduced to the turmoil and opposition that followers of Christ must experience. But let us note: never should such persecution be inflicted by the “remnant church” of Bible prophecy! But nevertheless, we must be prepared to meet whatever the Lord permits to come.

In Thursday’s lesson we see the prefigurement of the Loud Cry message that finally lightens the earth with glory: the “seventy” whom Jesus sent out two by two were their own TV, radio, satellite means of proclaiming the message. The truth was in their hearts; it couldn’t be suppressed there; it just had to shine out. That will happen again when the earth is lightened with the glory of the fourth angel’s message of Revelation 18:1-4.

In conclusion, may I urge that we give special attention to the last note in Friday’s lesson from author William Barclay. He was a careful student of the Bible. This note is worth clipping out and pasting in the back of your precious Bible.

Robert J. Wieland


Please forward these messages to your friends and encourage them to subscribe. "Insights" on the Internet:

To subscribe send an e-mail message with subscribe in the body of the message to: <>