Thursday, January 28, 2010

"The Fruit of the Spirit is Patience"

This week’s lesson focuses on the fruit of the Spirit called patience. When a Seventh-day Adventist hears the term “patience” his/her mind quickly goes to Rev. 14:12. “Here is the patience of the saints here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” This is a statement concerning the final generation, those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb” (Rev. 7:14).

James wrote:

“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4*).

This is what the one hundred-forty four thousand have done. They have developed the attribute which will particularly be seen in characters of the final generation, “patience”.

Thus we should understand and appreciate that description in Revelation 14:12 of the final generation:

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus (ESV).

Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus (NAS).

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus (NIV).

The last generation must endure “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Dan. 12:1). That will call for patient endurance. And “he [we might add “and only he”] that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). The 1888 Message was sent to prepare a people to stand in that time. What is it about the message that particularly relates to the development of patience? There are at least two elements of the message which specifically relate to this subject.

The message was a message concerning the righteousness of Christ. Christ came to reveal the righteousness of God (See Romans 3:26). God described Himself in Exodus 34:6-7

And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

Notice the term “longsuffering”. It means to suffer long without manifesting an impatient, intolerant attitude. In other words it is a synonym for “patience”. God Himself is patient. Therefore, when Jesus came to reveal the righteousness of God, He came to reveal among other qualities, the patience of God. And therefore, the message of the righteousness of Christ must be a message that reveals and cultivates patience in those who hear and believe.

As we understand the history of that message, we are again called to take note of the patience of God. Even though He was despised and rejected in the 1888 era, and the message has been resisted and rejected by some ever since, God is still patiently working with His church. He is still knocking at the door and calling them to repentance. Patience is a very large element of the 1888 message and history.

Another aspect of the 1888 message which relates to patience is a concept which has grown out of an understanding of the message and its history. That concept is corporate repentance. The best way to cultivate patience, when dealing with erring brothers and sisters, is to engage in corporate repentance on their behalf. One cannot have a repentant spirit on behalf of someone who is in error and be impatient with them at the same time.

As we understand that Jesus experienced repentance on our behalf (see “As Many as I Love”, Chapter 5, Robert Wieland), as we see the righteousness of God revealed in this attitude, we begin to realize that there is no reason why we should not repent on behalf of those who err or even sin against us. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are all in the same “boat”. We are all made of the same “dough”. If the sinless One could repent on behalf of a sinner, surely a fellow sinner can repent on behalf of another sinner.

Thus instead of censure and condemnation, we will manifest patience and forgiveness toward those who err, even in the most grievous and severe manner. This is what it means to wear the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This is a prominent characteristic of the “saints”.

*All scripture quotes are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy"

"The Fruit of the Spirit is Joy"

by Jerry Finneman

In the early days of my experience as a Seventh-day Adventist I read material by E.J. Waggoner concerning the joy God experience when one sinner repents. This was an entirely new thought to me because of my distorted thoughts about God. Like many of Judea in Christ's day and even more Christians today, I believed God was more tyrant than Savior. To think that God would sing over one lost sinner, even though found, was beyond my comprehension.

Waggoner joined three thoughts together and painted a verbal picture of God that I shall never forget. That picture was/is of God rejoicing with singing over sinners saved by His marvelous grace. The first passage Waggoner used was from the trilogy of Luke 15 which contains three vivid illustrations of God's interest in sinners. Here we reflect on the picture of God's song of rejoicing over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7, 10, 24). The second thought was Neh 8:10, which says that "the joy of the Lord is your strength." The third thought was Zeph 3:17, concerning God's song of rejoicing.

In reference to Luke 15, I quote Elder Waggoner: "People read it as though it said that there is rejoicing among the angels of God when a sinner repents. That is no doubt true; for if 'all the sons of God shouted for joy' when the world was first created, we may be sure that they have no less joy when a new creation appears; but what the text says is that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. That indicates that it is God Himself who manifests and leads in the joy. He is as genuinely glad at heart as are the man and the woman who recover the lost sheep and the lost coin.

"What a glorious thought that even here and now we can add to the joy of heaven, and that, even if we cannot sing a note, we may increase the music of heaven! Every saved sinner adds to the harmonies of heaven a note that no angel could ever produce. Thus it is that 'the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord' is made known through the church unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. Eph. iii. 10, 11. Who would forego the pleasure of making the heart of God glad, and of hearing Him sing for joy?

In the next paragraph Waggoner referenced two passages concerning the joy of the Lord: "This joy of the Lord is our strength. Neh. viii. 10. 'The Lord thy God is in the midst of thee, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing.' Zeph. iii. 17. This is the joy of His salvation. His joy is the joy of a mighty One in His own strength, the joyful contemplation of His own work, just as when on the seventh day He rested from all His work, and delighted Himself with the sight of the perfection of the work which His hands had made. He rests in His love, and in it we may also rest, and rejoice and be glad for ever in that which He creates."[1]

Never does the Lord call men and women to the rack of torture, whether physical or mental. To be continually longing for something, and to be fighting against that longing, is torture. So the last thing that we should even think of doing, is to deprive anyone of any real pleasure or enjoyment. We are to point them to the fountain of all joy. We are to bring "good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people" (Luke 2:10). From this we are to hold out to people the gospel as a way of life that's full of the joy of the Lord. In God's presence there is fullness of joy. The person who loves the Lord finds life a joy; not a burden. The "joy of the Lord" is his strength.

While it is true in 2 Cor 11:24-33 Paul catalogued his extraordinary perils and experiences of hardship, in another place he calls these things but a "light affliction" (2 Cor 4:17). Paul's letters are full of courage and of joy in spite of trials and tribulations. Some of his most powerful letters of encouragement were written while he was in Rome's prison dungeon. He knew personally that the strength of his life was the joy of the presence of the Lord.

So, is it not the time to be cheerful when trouble threatens? Jesus frequently said to His disciples, "Be of good cheer" when their lives were in danger or they were in trouble of one sort or another. Cheerfulness, joyfulness in God, is most needed in times of distress. There is nothing more glorious in this world than to be permitted to witness for Jesus, even though in bonds. The apostles, after they had been thrust into prison, and beaten, departed from the council "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."

There is no trouble that frightens Christ from us. Are we willing for His presence to abide with us? If so, there is no trouble, no peril, no hardship in which we may not "rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory."

Consequently we can say, with Christ: "The Lord God will help me; therefore I shall not be confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near who justifies me" (Isa l. 7, 8). And again we can say, "Rejoice not against me, O my enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me" (Micah 7:8).

The joy of the Lord is the strength of our life (Neh. 8:10). Let us not tell our friends and neighbors, in countenance or in speech, that the Christian life is a doleful one. However, it makes no sense in our telling them that it is a good life, if the joy and peace of it are not seen in the telling of it, and are not manifested in the life.

Consider, too, how it must grieve the heart of God to hear so much murmuring and complaining, by His people, where there is so much cause for praise and thanksgiving. Let none of us have any part in such a chorus of bitterness, and thus bring pain to the heart of our heavenly Father in heaven. Instead, let us repent and contemplate the song of our Singing Savior: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing" (Zeph 3:17). And then one day in the not too distant future we shall, in heaven, "unite in the Father's song of rejoicing" (COL 207).

[1] E.J. Waggoner, "English Present Truth," Oct 11, 1900. (See similar thoughts in "The Signs of the Times," July 21, 1890).

Friday, January 08, 2010

"The Fruit of the Spirit Is Love"

"The Fruit of the Spirit Is Love"

One of the special messengers to our church was given a vision that demonstrates the importance of understanding how God defines the concept of love:

"Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest [the Most Holy Apartment], and pray, 'my Father, give us Thy Spirit'. Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy and peace.

"I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne [who had not followed Christ by faith into the Most Holy Apartment]; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, 'Father, give us Thy Spirit'. Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy and peace" (
Early Writings, 55, 56).

Note the differences, Satan could not counterfeit "love, joy and peace". The life and death of Jesus invested an obscure Greek word, agape, and its human response, faith, with enhanced meaning that turned the ancient "world upside down".

"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:7).

"The gold tried in the fire is faith that works by love. Only this can bring us into harmony with God. We may be active, we may do much work; but without love, such love as dwelt in the heart of Christ, we can never be numbered with the family of heaven" (Christ's Object Lessons, 158).

Christ Himself makes clear what faith is, and his view is different from that of the popular concept. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him...Note: God's love is the first thing, and until that love is revealed, there can be no believing. As the result of His "loving" and "giving", the sinner finds it possible to "believe". Thus, faith is a heart-experience, "heart-work" to borrow Ellen White's phrase, and it cannot exist until God's love is understood and appreciated. Please note very carefully a fundamental point: the "believing" is not motivated by a fear of perishing or an acquisitive reward of everlasting life. The believing is the direct result of the loving.

The work of the High Priest in the Most Holy Apartment will result in the complete purification of the motives of those who follow His work by faith. They will become mature Christians and "put away childish things, i.e. self centered motivations (1 Corinthians 13:11,(KJV).

Whereas all non-Christian religions as well as apostate Christianity appeal to man's self-centeredness and insecurity, the apostles presented a gospel with a radically different appeal. Paul, for example, did not begin his preaching with a presentation of man's need, but of God's deed. "When I came to you,...I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified". The result was the development of true faith in the hearts of the listeners. Such a heart response is the true article of "faith" found in New Testament justification by faith. This is the third angel's message in verity!

The true Christocentric motivation for service and obedience finds refreshing demonstration in the appeals of the 1888 messengers. A. T. Jones said

"I heard of a person...speaking of missionary work, "Oh, I must do more work or I will not have stars in my crown. I must do more or someone else will have more stars than I."...This is not the right motive; nothing is the right motive but love for Christ.

"Think of it, my brethren, if I should be so happy and so glad as to get to that blessed place, and the Saviour should hand me a crown, do you think, brethren, that I could stand in His presence and put it on?...Do you think that I could stand before my master and beholding the print of the nails in His hand, and see the marks of the thorns that pierced His lovely brow, ---do you think, I say, that I could...receive from those hands a crown, to be placed on my head? No! No! I would want to bow low at His knee and put it on His head, for His is the power and the glory" (Sermon, Sept 24, 1888, Oakland, California, reprinted in Wieland, R. J., Knocking at the Door, p 66).

This kind of love is a gift from God, one facet of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We can conform our conduct to appear as if we have such love, but our love will always arise from self-centered motives. Any distortion of this truth, is just that, a distortion, and constitutes a refusal to follow Jesus into His Most Holy Apartment ministry of cleansing His sanctuary.

--Arlene Hill

Friday, January 01, 2010

"By Their Fruit . . ."

An old tree stands out in the front yard. In the springtime it flourishes with leafs rustling in the breeze. Its broad, overspreading branches afford abundant shade on hot summer days. Its fall fruit attracts both birds as well as humans. What is the secret to its strength? It is the root system. One particular taproot extends underground for a great distance to a water source which in times of drought keeps it healthy, strong and fruit bearing.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is composed of its individual members the spiritual health of whom is dependent upon its Source. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith" (Col. 2:6, 7). "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit" (Jer. 17:7, 8). "Being rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. 3:17), and "God is love" (1 John 4:8), "the root of the righteous shall not be moved" (Prov. 12:3).

This church and its individual members were launched by God's love and they are sustained by agape. The second advent movement was rooted in a restoration of the love of God. It is the climax of a sequence of divinely-led reformatory movements to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ and prepare a Bride for translation and the coming of her Groom.

Christ opened to view the source of her love by following their High Priest in through the open door of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary. [1] "Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest, and pray, 'My Father, give us Thy Spirit.' Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace." [2] The 1844 Advent people were a Spirit-led, agape motivated, charismatic movement. It was to restore the meaning of agape in the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus through its life, teaching and evangelism. [3]

The fruit of the Spirit is given by Jesus in His capacity as our Priest in the Most Holy. The true Holy Ghost movement is those who by faith follow Him there. The movement will finish with no less signs and wonders than on the day of Pentecost, but exceed it tenfold. [4]

Satan has a counterfeit charismatic movement in the religious world. "I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, 'Father, give us Thy Spirit.' Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan's object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God's children." [5] So far the greater majority of Christians have not followed Jesus by faith into the holiest. They do not believe in the sanctuary message. Hence they do not understand righteousness by faith.

Jesus reveals a unique understanding of justification by faith from the holiest. The 1888 message was indeed "special," a further development of justification by faith parallel to and consistent with the unique Adventist idea of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. It was "the beginning" of the message of Revelation 18 and thus initial "showers from heaven of the latter rain." [6]

Since the true Spirit of God only comes from our High Priest in the Most Holy and thus far we have not impressed upon other Christians the importance of the sanctuary truth, it motivates us to study the 1888 message so that we can share it with them in a convincing manner.

The "fruit of the Spirit" comes from the holiest because that is where Jesus is. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me" (John 15:4). Engrafted [7] into the Vine by the husbandman, a bad tree now produces good fruit. Faith works by agape (Gal. 5:6). Jesus receives the reward for which He died--a body of people prepared to welcome His return.

--Paul E. Penno

[1] Revelation 3:7.
[2] Ellen G. White, Early Writings, p. 55. Note these are the fruit of the Spirit.
[3] Revelation 14:12.
[4] “Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 612).
[5] Ibid., p. 56.
[6] The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1478.
[7] “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).