Friday, April 30, 2010

The Environment

As of this posting there was no 1888 Insight.  However there was a Sabbath School Today post.  Here it is.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"The Water of Life"

According to the US Geological Survey, ninety-seven percent of our world’s water resources are comprised of salty ocean water. This water, though it can appear beautiful, does only a marginal job when used externally, and does positive harm when taken internally in any quantity. Significant intake of seawater results in cellular dehydration since the body must rob the cells of water in order to properly dilute the sudden rise in salt content. The result is that the one who consumes seawater soon feels thirstier than he was before he drank! If he continues to drink the substance, this process of dehydration damages the vital organs, including the brain (sometimes making people go crazy) and eventually causes the kidneys to become overwhelmed and shut down, resulting in death.

God characterizes the gospel as being like water. Jesus used this illustration with the woman at the well (John 4), and the book of Revelation exhorts, “whosoever will” to “take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). So, the question is, of what water, or to put it in plain terms, of what gospel, are we to partake freely? If we take the gospel of popular Christianity (termed Babylon in Revelation 17), what will be the result? This “gospel” leaves its sincere partakers in a condition even worse than they were in prior to their “conversion.” Just as the drinking of seawater to quench thirst ultimately produces a deadly, state of toxic impurity in the body, the popular gospel produces a toxic, impure character by leading people to profess to be children of God, cleansed from sin, while continuing to live in transgression of His holy law.

In contrast to this “saltwater gospel,” the message of Christ our Righteousness, as revealed in the utterances of the Three Angels of Revelation 14:6-12, sets forth a gospel that combines a judicial verdict of acquittal for the world with the entire transformation of the character of the person who partakes freely. This message was given special emphasis through the writings of the Lord’s messenger, Ellen White, and also through Elders Waggoner and Jones in that crucial period of opportunity in the 1880s and 1890s. As we teach the Sabbath School Lesson this week, let us set before the people the pure, soft water of the message of justification by faith in light of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary!

--Skip Dodson

The following, by E. J. Waggoner, excerpted from the General Conference Daily Bulletin, February 24, 1899.

Some of you may soon pass Niagara Falls, and as you gaze you may wonder where all the water
that pours over that precipice comes from, and where it goes. Why is not the source exhausted, or
the earth overflowed? "All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from
whence the rivers come, thither they return again." Where do they come from? - The water
comes from away up yonder in the hills. Why doesn't it run dry? - Because it comes from the
heavens, in the clouds. The clouds drop down water abundantly; and it fills the earth, and then
flows forth. Where did the clouds get the water? - It evaporated from the earth, and they became
filled with water. Then the earth gave it to the clouds, and the clouds gave it to the earth. But
which originated it, - the earth or the clouds? You see that is just as far as any scientific textbook
takes us. But that is not satisfactory at all. Now read the true scientific answer: "Thou visitest the
earth, and waterest it; thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water; thou
preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof
abundantly; thou settlest the furrows thereof; thou makest it soft with showers."

Thank the Lord that the river of God is full of water, and never runs dry. It is always running. Do
you not see? The rain comes down from heaven, filters down from the river of God. You and I
have drunk from the rock, and have forgotten God the Rock. We have been drinking from the
life of God all our lives, and have not known it. We are just as bad as were the Israelites. They
were forty years in the wilderness, drinking from the fountain of life, from Christ, - spiritual
water; and there are men in the earth to-day who have been twice forty years drinking from that
same fountain, and have never given praise for it. Spiritual water will make a man spiritual when
he takes it as such; for it is the life of God. The Israelites did not take it by faith, and they died.
How near is the Lord, and how real are these things! yet we have been living in an unreal world.
The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal. That which
is for only a little while is the unreal thing. It is the unseen thing that will endure. Therefore we
want to get out of this unreal world, which exists for only these mortal eyes, to see and live in the
real, the unseen, world. Then we shall be able to see, to all eternity, things that wicked men can
never see.

We have a drink of water here, - living water. Where does it come from? - The throne of God,
where Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain, is. It flows from his heart. It is the blood of Christ, which
cleanses from all sin. The blood of Christ is a real thing…

Water is life, and it has life-giving powers. The River Seine receives all the sewage of the city of
Paris. No small amount of filth goes into that river every day; yet the water of life is powerful
enough to cleanse all the filth of Paris. It can do that, and here is the evidence: all the refuse,
waste, filth - the sewage of every sort of that vast city - go into the River Seine; but forty miles
below, there is not a trace of impurity. The water is just as pure, sparkling, and life-giving as any
water in the world. It is running, living water…

This marvelous property is just the same as that of the air. You want to get away from dead,
stagnant air; the wind begins to blow, and it becomes fresh. We say, "What a fine thing this wind
is! It will blow away the disease germs, and will purify everything." O, the life swallows up
death! We all come, putting death into this great ocean of life, which swallows it up, so that we
live. All about us is death, disease; and it is swallowed up by the air, and we live. The filth is
brought into the living water; it flows, and men say it works itself pure. That is as well as we can
express it. But whence comes that water - the River Seine, or any other river? - From the throne
of God. It is living, flowing water, and the fact that water gives life to us when we drink it; the
fact that water refreshes our bodies when we put it upon them; the fact that water has wonderful
healing properties, not only when we take it within us, but when we put it upon our bodies; the
fact that water cleanses the impurities from our bodies when we take it in, washing all the
tissues; the fact that water cleanses that which is put into it, and divides it from its death-dealing
properties, so that we may take the same water, and it gives life to us, - all these facts speak to all
of the marvelous cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ…

When we get over into the new earth, we shall all see the river of life. We must see it now,
because you and I will never get over there to see it if we do not see it before we get there. It is
the Spirit of God, and we are to be filled with it; so that, as I said this afternoon, the food we eat
is spiritual food.

Now we are not yet over in the new earth; but, thank the Lord, if any man be in Christ, he is a
new creature; old things are passed away, and all things are become new. So now when we see
this very stream of water we are coming to, it will lead us direct to the throne of God, and we
shall drink from the fountain of life, and our souls will live.

Let us rejoice in this; let us drink; let us get our souls full. O, who would forsake the water that
flows from the mountain, clear and sparkling, for water that is standing in a puddle? Would you?
You have done it. I, also. We have hewed out a broken cistern, and wanted to keep the water
there; but when God has given us his own life, and it flows throughout the universe, who would
take a substitute? who would mingle something with it that is inferior to it? Can we not take the
health reform, and preach it? It is the gospel of life. Just take it, rejoice in it, and be glad of it.
Take it in its fulness, and we will drink of the River of Eden.

O, I thank the Lord for the refreshing showers. You sometimes sing: "Lord I hear of showers of
blessings, Thou art scattering full and free, Showers the thirsty land refreshing, Let some drops
now fall on me:"

But don't ever sing it that way again. The idea that when God is scattering showers full and free,
you would ask for a drop or two! Get out under the heavens, where the rain is falling; let the
water sift down over you, and take in the showers: "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that
cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth
blessing from God." Let us drink in the water every day. Then we are living in the presence of
God. Ah, we shall not worry about the time when we shall see him! We see him now; we live in
his presence now, and there will be no trouble about the coming of the Lord. We shall love his
coming; for we shall love to be with him all the time. It is a blessed thing to dwell in the presence
of the Lord. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."

Sabbath School Today

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Celebrating Spiritual and Physical Fitness"

"Celebrating Spiritual and Physical Fitness"

“The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead”(Romans 1:20).

The inspired word repeatedly compares faith to muscles (see In Heavenly Places page 104). Appropriate use of each has a vital impact on this life and the life to come. “More people die for want of exercise than through overfatigue; very many more rust out than wear out” (Ellen White, Counsels on Health page 173).

I have found this to be so true in my own experience. Almost every time I feel overly fatigued, it is linked to a lack of exercise. The clouded mind, the sluggish stomach, the droopy eyelids in the daytime, the feelings of being overwhelmed by the things that need to be done – all are directly linked, in my case, to a lack of vigorous exercise.

The two times in my life when I have felt and functioned best were when vigorous exercise was necessary to accomplish the tasks that had been assigned to me.Exercise is not only beneficial to the physical body, but it also affects our spiritual lives.  When the circulatory system gets sluggish from a lack of exercise or proper nutrition it  directly impacts the mind. “The life of the flesh is in the blood”( Lev 17:11). When a lack of exercise leaves my blood moving sluggishly, my mind will also work sluggishly. I will not be quick to discern   the wiles of the devil who seeks, in these last days, to deceive the very elect!

Good circulation improves the function of the brain where the battle between good and evil takes place. Our bodies are intended to be the dwelling place of the Most High, and while we take great pains to make sure the church is cleaned perfectly, ready for Sabbath, we must not neglect the physical temple that Christ longs to abide in.

Everywhere in nature we find object lessons of the goodness of God. He has revealed in the simplicity of nature the beauty of the gospel. In exercise we see a practical demonstration of righteousness by faith.
Muscles and faith are special gifts from the hand of our Creator. The power of choice – the power to use these gifts profitably – is also a gift from God. “Every human being, created in the image of God, is endowed with a power akin to that of the Creator -- individuality, power to think and to do” (Ellen White, Education page 17).

Faith is simply trusting that God‟s word has the power to accomplish that which it sets out to do. When we set our will to cooperate with His word, good works are the result.  The story of the paralytic (see chapter 27 in The Desire of Ages) is a perfect example of both spiritual and physical exercise. Here is a man who has not been able to use his limbs for many years. His case appears hopeless. God draws this man to Himself by sending someone to tell him that Jesus is able to heal. Friends bear him to the Savior. They remove the tiles from the roof – doing all that God has already placed in their power to do in removing all that prevents them from seeing Christ. Then, when the sick man is in the presence of his Redeemer, he hears the words he has longed for: “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5). At once the man embraces those words as a fact. His faith grasps the words of Christ and at once he feels the peace of God fill his soul.

The Pharisees couldn‟t see the simplicity of what had just taken place so Christ tied the spiritual reality to a physical one, illustrating what had just happened in the man‟s heart. Jesus said to the “sick of palsy, Arise, and take up thy bed and go thy way into thine house” (Mark 2:10, 11). “What, take up his bed with his palsied arms! What, get upon his feet with his palsied limbs! What did he do? Why, he just did as he was bidden. He did what the Lord told him to. The power of the will was set to move his palsied limbs and
arms, and they responded, when they had not responded for a long time” (Ellen White, Faith and Works, page 68). His choice to obey – to get up – was an act of faith. Nerves and muscles were put to action, and that man‟s faith increased.

How do we exercise faith? By taking God at His word and living our lives in accordance with what He has said He will do in us. We must rest ourselves in His power by choosing to obey Him, recognizing that it is God who works in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

“God has made man free, and therefore every man is absolutely free to accept this salvation or to reject it, as he chooses. God does not want and will not have any unwilling service. And therefore it is that „by grace are ye saved through faith.‟ Faith is for us to exercise. Therefore it is written: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (A. T. Jones, Adventist Review and Sabbath
Herald, April 24, 1894).

“You cannot have a thought without Christ. You cannot have an inclination to come to Him unless He sets in motion influences and impresses His Spirit upon the human mind.  And if there is a man on the face of the earth who has any inclination toward God, it is because of the many influences that are set to work to bear upon his mind and heart.  Those influences call for the allegiance to God and an appreciation of the great work that God has done for him. Then don't let us ever say that we can repent of ourselves, and then Christ will pardon. No, indeed. It is the favor of God that pardons. It is the favor of God that leads us by His power to repentance. Therefore, it is all of Jesus Christ, everything of Him, and you want to just give back glory to God. Why don't you respond…” (Ellen White, Faith and Works page 73.3).

Lisa Puffer

Sabbath School Today

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Animals are good. Sometimes they are even fun to have around; and they can be a real comfort to us, as well. Yet, animals do everything by instinct. They do what they do because that is what is in their makeup. They do what they do because that is what they are. They do not have the capacity to worship; rather, they only do what God created them to do, or what we human beings train them to do. Animals are intelligent enough to be capable of only the very most basic of decisions.

God could have made us to be animals. But instead, God made an order of beings with the capacity to wor-ship Him. Moreover, this new order was to repopulate heaven, presumably to replace the fallen angels (SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 1, page 1082.4) God gave human beings the power to make a choice. Having implanted the capacity to know the difference between right and wrong, God looks for human be-ings to make right choices in life. These choices are many and varied. What shall I eat? What shall I wear? Who shall be my friends or my spouse (or whether even to have a spouse)? What shall my life work be? Who shall I work for? What shall I choose for pleasure? What kind of car shall I drive? Shall I go to class today? These do not even mention choices between the varied options within politics or religion.
Many spiritual blessings have been given to us as gifts. Among these are salvation, eternal life, and righ-teousness. These gifts have all been given to us in title before the foundation of the world. Let‟s look at what the apostle Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained [NIV: prepared in advance] that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 1:3-4; 2:10).

Please note that you have already been chosen by God, you have already been given good works, and your destiny is all the way to holiness and good works. Your destiny is to be adopted into the family of God. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”( Ephesians 1:5).

All of these spiritual blessing have been given to us by God in title, but this does not necessarily mean that we are allowing them to function in our experience. They are ours because they have been given to us be-fore the foundation of the world. (This is why no one has been left out; for they were bestowed before we had an opportunity to make any choices.) All these spiritual blessings await us as we come into the world. They are our birthright possession—an inheritance. Through a series of poor choices, man fell in the gar-den, and by so doing gave up his birthright possession, including the dominion of planet earth. Fortunately, Christ immediately stepped in and won it back, ratifying His gift and victory by going to the cross and tak-ing our penalty, the second death—that “anguish of impending eternal separation from God which the sin-ner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race” (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages page 753.2)

We all have been given all things, in title, by God. God has pre-determined that we will be adopted into His family. But we can choose not to be adopted as His children. Having given us the power of Choice, God has bound Himself to respect the choices we make. He has provided abundantly for our complete res-toration, but He does not force His gifts upon us.
There are many choices that we make during our lives, but God has simplified them for us. They all boil down to this one choice, really: God, or self. Whether we recognize it or not, the “self” choice is a deci-sion to be dominated by Satan. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). We can choose to receive Christ‟s kingdom and by so doing, we begin to receive into our experience all the gifts of Heaven, including His righteousness. We re-ceive these gifts moment by moment as we need them in our daily walk with God.

On the other hand, we can choose our own way. If we do this, even our righteous acts are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). We don‟t have to receive our own way, because we are born with it. Thanks to Adam, we are born with the fallen sinful human nature inherited from our father Adam.

Our flesh will not change until Jesus comes and we are translated into the glorious bodies God already holds in trust for us. But before receiving these glorious bodies, we need a change of mind—and that we can choose to receive right now. “Let this mind (or attitude) be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philip-pians 2:5). “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). By receiving the mind of Christ, we are empowered to believe God‟s promises. In accepting Christ, we re-ceive into our experience the good works of God, which He has already bestowed in title.

From birth we are already in possession of probationary life, the power of choice, and the presumption of innocence with which Christ surrounded humanity when He became the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is at the point of our conscious decision to let Christ have the throne of our hearts that we are adopted by God into His family. Moreover, this mind of Christ will beat down, pummel, and crush all the cravings of the fallen sinful human flesh, thus paralyzing Satan in his attempts to take us down to his level. God is able to carry out His righteousness, even in our fallen, sinful flesh, thus demonstrating that grace is stronger than sin.
This is what it means to partake of the divine nature:

“The whole universe is given to us in Christ and the fullness of the power that is in it is ours for the overcoming of sin. God counts each soul as of as much value as all creation. Christ has by the grace of God, tasted death for every man, so that every man in the world has received the ‘inexpressible gift’ (Hebrew 2:9; 2 Corinthians 9:15). ‘The grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one Man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many,’ even to all; for ‘as by the offense of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life’ (Romans 5:15, 18, KJV)...” {E. J. Waggoner, Present Truth, Volume 14, January 13, 1898, }

“In that Christ is given to every man, each person gets the whole of Him. The love of God embraces the whole world, but it also singles out each individual…
“Christ is the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness. But light is not divided among a crowd of people. If a room full of people be brilliantly lighted, each individual gets the benefit of all the light, just as much as though he were alone in the room. So the life of Christ lights every man that comes into the world, and in every believing heart Christ dwells in all His fullness” (E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, page 16).

When the individual believes, the inexpressible gift already given begins to be seen in the individual‟s experience.

“All this deliverance is „according to the will of our God and Father.‟ The will of God is our sanctification (1Thessalonians 4:3). He willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1Timothy 2:4). And He „worketh all things after the counsel of His own will‟ (Eph.1:11). „What! do you mean to teach uni-versal salvation?‟ We mean to teach just what the Word of God teaches, that „the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men‟ (Titus 2:11, R.V.). God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it, and throw it away. The Judgment will reveal the fact that full and complete salvation was given to every man, and that the lost have deliberately thrown away their birthright possession…” (E. J. Wag-goner, The Glad Tidings, page 22)
Would you like to partake of the divine nature? You can, if that is what you want. The choice is yours.

-Craig Barnes


Sabbath School Today

Thursday, April 01, 2010

"Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow"

What a blessing this quarter will be as the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church focuses its study on one of God‟s greatest gifts—the health message.

With our lesson‟s author we yearn for a clearer understanding of the cross of Christ. We pray the lessons this quarter will motivate each one of us to live for Christ and study to know how to share this life-giving message.

This past weekend we witnessed first hand what happens when the health message is proclaimed in concert with the gospel to unbelievers. We live in a town that is more New Age and Buddhist than it is Christian. People don‟t think they are interested in the Bible, but the health message has a universal appeal. This weekend many of them listened as an Adventist physician powerfully presented the loving character of God in giving us guidelines for healthful living. Unbelievers left the meetings with faces alight with joy! They loved the Bible texts. They appreciated the caring way in which the messages were presented. The health message is the gospel in shoes. Everyone needs it, and everyone who follows it will be blessed, even if only in this life.

Our lesson this week lays the foundation for the health message by sharing several gospel principles.

We will never be effective missionaries for God so long as we are trying to get heavenly credit for our witnessing endeavors. The age-old discussion about faith and works and merit evaporates in the bright light streaming from the cross of Christ. It is all Him. Christ gave up everything to save us.

As we work to save the lost, we are doing the work of Christ. Consider this:

“Christ did not confine his good offices to those who had living, saving faith in him, or who would be his disciples. He „went about doing good‟ (Acts 10:38) because that was his nature. „God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself‟ (2 Cor. 5:12). It is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance (Rom. 2:4); and so Christ, in the fullness of his love and goodness, went about a blessing to all. How often we read that „he was moved with compassion.‟ He could not see suffering without wishing to alleviate it; and so he healed all who would allow him to do anything for them. Some were drawn by his goodness to believe in him to the saving of their souls, while others forgot him. Thus it is now; but if we consider Jesus in this light, as doing good to all, and not simply to those who were or would be his disciples, and then remember that this was but a manifestation of the love of God, we shall have a higher appreciation of that love, and will the more readily incline to yield to such unselfish goodness” (E. J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, August 11, 1890).

There is no greater joy in this life than that found in laboring to save souls. We don‟t do this because we have to, but because of how precious these dear people are to Jesus. He longs for every one to be saved. If our efforts to save the many result in saving only a few, how much better than if we venture nothing at all.

"‟We love, because He first loved us‟ (1 John 4:19, RV). This is the literal rendering, instead of, „We love Him, because He first loved us‟ (1 John 4:19, KJV). While this is true, it is not the whole truth, as given in the text. The love of God causes us to love, not Him alone, but all men. But for the love of God, there would be no love whatever in the world” (E.J. Waggoner, The Present Truth, Volume 11, December 5,1895).

The gospel does not begin with “I”, but with Christ. Before I loved, He loved. Before time began, every person ever born on this planet had a special place in the heart of God.
“When you and I come to the very heart of health reform, which is the heart of God, we shall find that self-denial is not in the mention; for the happiness of life, the joy of life, the joy of eating, the joy of breathing, the joy of exercising, will be so great that that which we thought was self-denial, in cutting off this and that bad thing, is altogether lost sight of in the joy of the richness that we receive as we take the life. Then life will be worth living. God wants a people prepared by this message whose joy will be full, not those who will go about mourning and sad” (E. J. Waggoner, General Conference Daily Bulletin, April 14, 1901).

Praise God for the privilege and weighty responsibility of sharing Christ with our sick and dying world. Jesus is coming soon! As we seek to lift Him up, our own cold, selfish hearts will be made tender by His love.

Patti Guthrie
Sabbath School Today