Friday, May 07, 2010

Faith and Healing

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Paul E. Penno Faith and Healing Sabbath School Today : May 4, 2010 1

Our Saviour has kindly warned us: “‘False christs and false prophets will arise and show
great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect’” (Matt. 24:24).

It is not beyond the power of the fallen Lucifer to work miracles. “No wonder! For Satan
himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). Are we so sure that we
can unerringly distinguish from the genuine work of the Holy Spirit and the work of such
an “angel of light”? Answers to prayer can seem such bona fide evidence of God’s
special favor and activity on our behalf. Satan has the power to appear as an “angel of
light,” a “false christ” who “performs great signs.” Indeed, he seems to have a
connection with heaven, “so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the
earth in the sight of men.” But his real character lies concealed in these miracles. John
adds that he “deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was
granted to do in the sight of the beast” (Rev. 13:13, 14). Miracles are thus no test of
genuine Christian experience.

Satan is much more refined in his arts of spiritualism now than in past generations. [1]
He has cloaked the worship of self by disguising it as the worship of Christ. Faith
motivated by self-interest is rapidly uniting the religions of the world. However, religion
motivated by self-concern in the Day of Atonement has its source in Lucifer who chose
his ego over the self-denying character of God.

Will not God’s missionaries perform genuine miracles in the last days? Most certainly.
[2] When God’s people have learned what true faith is, their lives will demonstrate the
same self-denial as Christ gave on His Cross. The Holy Spirit will be able to manifest
miracles on a scale exceeding that of Pentecost. The Pharisaic spirit of rich and
increased with goods having need of nothing, will be gone. Thousands will be converted
in a day. The Lord will be able to entrust these newborns to the fellowship of a revived
and reformed church.

The Spirit of Prophecy points out that Pentecost came after the disciples realized the
significance of the Cross, and their own hearts were deeply humbled and broken by a
true understanding of the atonement, not as a doctrinal theory, but as an experience of
heart-broken love for the Lamb of God whom they themselves had so largely
misunderstood. It was a far deeper work that they experienced in their hearts than we
have heard.

Though it may seem shocking to say, we firmly believe that a second Pentecost will
come to this people when we realize what the early disciples did,—what we ourselves,
Seventh-day Adventists, as a people, have been just as stupid, just as blind, just as
unfeeling and unsympathetic toward the true Christ as those eleven men had been. The
Repentance will precede the “loud cry,” and in it is locked up a true understanding of
ourselves, which is revealed in the truth of Minneapolis and its aftermath.

But the impression given repeatedly to the church is that we will get this gift of the Holy
Ghost by believing that we have it, by making the experiment of “claiming that gift as
mine along with the forgiveness of sins.” Does not such a doctrine come perilously close
to our becoming holy by believing with a determined “experiment” or act of faith that we
are holy? Does not such a doctrine give the impression that the reception of the latter
rain depends, after all, in the final analysis, on our own act of appropriation, rather than
upon the true faith aroused by a contrite reconciliation to God?

We sincerely desire this long-promised outpouring of the Spirit, and we believe that it is
going to be poured out upon us, not so much when God gets ready to do it (for He is
ready now), as when we as a people get ready. We must make a closer investigation of
these matters, in what we are all agreed is the most serious, crisis hour to which the
Advent movement has ever come.

—Paul E. Penno

[1] “As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has
greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern
order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency
of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable
wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest
respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation
of divine power.

“The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly
distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with
them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause
by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p.

[2] “In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory
movement among God’s people. ... The sick were healed, and other miracles were
wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great
Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening
before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit,
and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open
to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly
influence” (Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 126).

Paul E. Penno Faith and Healing Sabbath School Today : May 4, 2010 3